When Rogelio Pieto was 15 years old, he left Mexico for Austin in pursuit of an education.
To make ends meet, he said he took what he learned from his mother, an avid cook, and his small-business owner father and put his skills to use working at various restaurants and hotel kitchens in Austin. He even went door-to-door selling ice cream, tacos and tamales.
“My dream was to have my own business,” he said.
Pieto eventually made his way to San Marcos and worked as a manager for Mexican restaurant El Arroyo until it closed.
At the insistence of El Arroyo customers who loved his cooking, Pieto—along with his wife, Bernarda, and their children—opened his own restaurant in 1998.
“All the customers were looking [to]me and saying, ‘It’s time for you to open your own place,’” he said.
Twenty years later, the family operation is alive and well, and Pieto said he hopes to construct a new building on a lot he owns next door to house the restaurant in the future.
He said the support he has received from the community over the years has made Rogelio’s Restaurant what it is today—a comforting place for locals to try authentic, homemade Mexican food in a social environment. Pieto knows many of the customers by name and is at the restaurant seven days a week, often engaging in conversation with guests at every table.
Pieto’s son Pablo—one of four sons Bernarda and Pieto have together—helps out in the restaurant with his brothers when he is not working as a firefighter and EMT in San Marcos. He said the loyal customer base has watched him and his siblings grow up.
“It’s been kind of an extended family,” he said, adding he is grateful for the support and the welcoming environment in San Marcos.
625 S. LBJ Drive, San Marcos
Hours: Mon.-Thu. 7 a.m.-8 p.m., Fri.-Sat. 7 a.m.-9 p.m., Sun. 7 a.m.-2 p.m.