Blue Goose Cantina, a family-owned and -operated business, was started by friends Bob Peterson and Scott Holyfield, who opened the original location on Lower Greenville Avenue in Dallas in 1984. Peterson’s wife, Jill, and son, Nick, now run the business.

Blue Goose has added six more locations in the Dallas area, including one in McKinney, which opened in July 2013. The restaurant is known for its strong margaritas and Tex Mex food made with fresh ingredients and fast service, management said.

While the business has grown significantly since the ‘80s, McKinney General Manager Carlos Palacio and Frisco General Manager Matthew Frank said Blue Goose has kept the small-business, familial feel.

Blue Goose aimed to be a late-night margarita destination in its early days, but the business has since changed with its clientele, Palacio and Frank said. The company followed the suburban sprawl and expanded north. The restaurant also changed its hours to send employees home earlier.

“We’ve kind of grown-up as we’ve moved out to the suburbs,” Frank said. “Now, we just party ‘til not as late.”

Another dimension of the familial atmosphere that Frank and Palacio described is the loyalty that employees have to the company. While there is generally a fair amount of employee turnover in the restaurant industry, Blue Goose has employees who have stuck around for several years. Mynor Salazar, the bartender at Blue Goose’s McKinney location, has been with the company for nine years, and other employees have stuck around for 20 or 30 years. Frank and Palacio credited this loyalty to the company’s emphasis on work-life balance, treating each other like family and having traditions, just as families do. Before the pandemic, Blue Goose employees used to volunteer at the Salvation Army together, have holiday parties and participate in a company soccer league. Palacio and Frank said these traditions, along with a commitment to fostering feelings of belonging, has created tight bonds in the company.

“We look at [our work culture] as kind of taking someone under the Goose wing,” Palacio said. “They did that for me, and that’s what we try to do for everybody ... that is looking for maybe a career path or just somewhere to call home.”

Blue Goose Cantina

2020 N. Central Expressway, McKinney