Co-owners Steve and JoAnn Barker said hard work, faith and perseverance are just a few key ingredients that are helping to shape Tommy Tamale Market & Café into a household name.

Tommy Tamale Market & Café

The Tommy Bowl ($8) includes Spanish rice blended with homemade queso and chili. Megan Hatfield

The Barkers said at the restaurant they strive to make their tamales perfect and filled with tons of meat.

“We want to serve a quality, consistent product,” said the Barkers, of Decatur, Texas. “We come in every day looking at ways to improve and make things better.”

The husband-and-wife duo said they have come a long way to get to where they are today. Steve got his start in 2009 driving around Decatur selling his tamales out of a Ford pickup truck with hand-painted signs on its sides.

In spring 2010 the couple had a chance to participate in the Grapevine Farmers Market. Since then they have had a solid six seasons of serving repeat and new customers alike.

JoAnn said because of the demand after their first season at the market they opened up a store in Colleyville on a short-term lease. Once the five-month lease was up, their “grab-and-go” location relocated to 708 W. Northwest Hwy., Grapevine.

The location will celebrate five years in business this year.

Their second location, which opened in October at 1689 W. Northwest Hwy., Grapevine, is a sit-down, fast-casual restaurant.

“We want to try and create a [place] where people can come and hang out and aren’t necessarily rushed,” Steve said.

Steve said a key to having a thriving business is customer service, which is why a customer will always be greeted with a friendly face and warm smile.

Diners may bring their own beer and try menu items including a tamale plate ($6-$8) served with one’s choice of two to four tamales with a side of Spanish rice and refried beans. Also available is a Tommy Bowl ($8) consisting of Spanish rice blended with homemade queso, layered with all-beef Texas chili and served with  two tamales of one’s choice as well as  topped with a shredded five-cheese blend and homemade pico de gallo.

If dining in is not an option, Steve said he has 17 varieties of tamales and an ever-growing list of salsas for to-go customers to purchase.

All of the tamales, he said, are lard-free and gluten-free to meet dietary restrictions. There is even a vegan option, he said.

For now, the 4-month-old location is open for lunch and dinner, but breakfast is soon to be included on the menu, the Barkers said.

Steve said the restaurant also offers catering and fundraising options to help the community.

“We are always working on something new,” Steve said. “Our goal is to have Tommy Tamale be a household name.”

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