Jose Mendieta Jr. comes from a long line of restaurateurs.
“My brother and I are fourth-generation restaurateurs,” Jose Jr. said.
He and his father, Jose Mendieta Sr., opened Emma’s Mex Grill in 2009 before moving the restaurant to its existing location at 5096 W. Broadway St., Pearland, last year.
Emma’s serves Tex-Mex and authentic Mexican dishes. Some of the popular Tex-Mex items include fajitas and tacos al carbon, while the authentic Mexican offerings include enchiladas and the Chile Yucatan, which consists of a poblano pepper stuffed with braised pork.
Jose Jr. prides himself on the quality and freshness of his ingredients. The same freshness applies to the restaurant’s bar, which is stocked with tequila. He makes a trip to Mexico a few times a year to test and buy tequila for the restaurant.
“We pride ourselves on our collection,” he said. “We handpick every single item we put up there.”
And where there is tequila, there are limes. The bar goes through 20-40 cases of limes every week.
Jose Jr.’s entrepreneurial spirit as a restaurateur is born out of his father’s passion. Jose Sr. opened Mely’s, his first restaurant, in Pearland in 1989. He later opened Jicama’s, a Latin American steakhouse, which is no longer open.
While Jose Jr. and his father are interested in opening another Latin American steakhouse, they do not want to open another Emma’s for now.
“We’ve been approached about [opening a second Emma’s]. But it’s harder to do a second location, because you’re tied to duplicating a unique experience,” Jose Jr. said. “When you expand, you lose originality because you have to standardize things.”
In addition to Emma’s Mex, Jose Sr. owns a taco shop with Luis Mendieta called Taco.com Alvin. The family will keep developing its restaurant empire for generations, Jose Jr. said.
“It is a very personal business,” he said. “It is an extension of who you are, both in a business aspect and a creative one. Very few businesses combine that, and this is definitely one of them.”
Emma’s Mex Grill
5096 W. Broadway St., Pearland
Hours: Mon.-Thu. 11 a.m.-9 p.m., Fri. 11 a.m.-10 p.m., Sat. 8 a.m.-10 p.m., Sun. 8 a.m.-9 p.m.