Inside the colorful walls of a building along FM 518 on the west side of League City sits Marinas Mexican Restaurant & Bar.
The eatery serves typical Mexican cuisine—tacos, enchiladas, fajitas, rice and beans—but for co-owners Moises Granados and Brent Robinson what sets the restaurant apart is its love of people.
Granados estimated he and Robinson know 98 percent of the restaurant’s customers, and the co-owners go out of their way to make them feel at home.
“They know they can come and talk to one of us,” Granados said.
Robinson said there is a “Cheers” atmosphere at Marinas. The goal is to make customers feel like they are in a comfortable place with friendly people who know and engage with them, he said.
When new customers come in and sit by themselves, Robinson makes a point to introduce them to others. He asks customers’ names, how they got into their line of work and other questions to help him find others they might get along with. Robinson has seen strangers form relationships and conversations take off introducing newcomers to regulars, he said.
“It’s a familiar environment. Everyone knows your name,” Robinson said. “It’s a different vibe.”
With that familiarity comes flexibility. Employees work with customers to cater to their specific tastes and tailor meals to what they want, Granados said.
Some customers are well-known enough that cooks will have their meals ready before they order it, he said.
“I like to go somewhere and just feel well-known,” Granados said. “I think a lot of people just don’t wanna think; they don’t wanna make decisions.”
Marinas’ staff does it for them, Granados said.
The original Marinas, named for Granados’ mother, opened in 1996 in New Braunfels. When Granados, who already had restaurant experience, met Robinson, a chef, over 15 years ago they thought they could complement each other’s strengths and opened the second Marinas location in June 2004, Granados said.
Since opening Granados and Robinson have seen League City grow, but there is still a shortage of stand-alone restaurants on the west side. Their establishment helps fill that gap, the co-owners said.
The restaurant has a closed patio space, which is a plus for parents who want to grab a beer and not worry too much about their children wandering off. Marinas also has a meeting space for the community to use free of charge.
“We’d rather serve the community than make $200,” Robinson said. “It’s a home.”
Marinas Mexican Restaurant & Bar
3500 FM 518, League City
Hours: Mon.-Thu. 11 a.m.-9 p.m., Fri.-Sat. 11 a.m.-10 p.m.,
Sun. 9 a.m.-2 p.m.