Brent Johnson opened his second Rio Mambo restaurant in Colleyville following the success of his first location in Fort Worth. Now he owns eight Rio Mambo locations across the Dallas-Forth Worth area.
Johnson said he calls the food at Rio Mambo “Chef-Mex” instead of Tex-Mex because the menu is ingredient-driven and focuses more on quality than tradition.
“We take basic recipes and improve upon them,” Johnson said. “We are not locked into the traditional ways; we are always trying to make it better. We are as flavor-forward as we can be.”
Several items on the menu are inspired and named after guests. Johnson said one of his favorite menu items is Rosie’s Shrimp, a spicy shrimp dish named after his 85-year-old mother-in-law, because “she’s a spicy lady.”
“We offer a personalized guest experience,” Johnson said. “We know our guests by name, and we teach our staff to treat our guests as family, not customers.”
Every Rio Mambo location has a bar area that has been specially named after someone from the community. Colleyville’s bar, Club W, was named after Johnson’s friend and former Texas Rangers pitcher Bobby Witt.
Laura Rivera, who has worked for Rio Mambo for 10 years, started as a server at the Fort Worth location. In 2010 she was promoted to a corporate manager, helping at the different Rio Mambo restaurants.
Rivera said the Rio Mambo staff follows a set of guidelines called “ingredients” that Johnson says creates the “distinctive service recipe.” The ingredients are Professionalism; Focus; Freshness; Swarming, or always being available; and Feed the Goose.
“[Feed the Goose] means we don’t like to be selfish; we always try to put everybody’s priorities before our own; and we always work as a team,” Rivera said.
She said that the employee-to-customer relationship is another important quality Rio Mambo offers.
“We like to give that feeling to the customer that it’s not just another restaurant chain,” Rivera said. “We want to give that personalized touch to our service.”