Friendswood has been the land of milk and honey for Antonio Nunez, owner of local Tex-Mex eatery Rancho Mexican Restaurant.
Nunez has been in the restaurant business in Houston since 1974, when he first moved to the U.S. from his small town of Los Huesos in Mexico.
After years of learning the restaurant business in the U.S. from the ground up, Nunez said struck out on his own in the late ’80s, building a minirestaurant empire with three locations in Houston and Katy.
However, personal struggles forced him to close up shop and start his life from scratch.
“I lost everything in 2002. I didn’t have anything: money, restaurants, house,” Nunez said.
That year, Nunez moved to Friendswood. In 2004, he said took the little savings he had and reinvented himself. He fondly remembers the day he opened Rancho Mexican Restaurant—May 25, 2004— and all the patrons he has served since.
“It’s quiet and [has] very nice people. Everybody knows each other,” Nunez said. “I love my job.”
Times were tough in the beginning; he managed the restaurant and waited tables to make enough money for his family. However, Nunez prides himself on the quality food he serves. Rancho Mexican Restaurant has a scratch kitchen—the chips are fried, the salsa is prepared in-house and even the hot sauce is fresh.
“It’s fresh daily. We never freeze anything. We don’t buy anything from a can. We buy fresh produce and cook everything in-house,” Nunez said.
After 13 years of serving fresh Tex-Mex food and singing to his customers, Nunez has charted his next steps. He purchased 1 acre across from Windsong Intermediate School with plans to move Rancho Mexican Restaurant to a new location.
He said he anticipates a June groundbreaking and will move into his custom-built restaurant in 2018.
“This is my dream. I’m never satisfied; I’m never ready to stop,” Nunez said.
Rancho Mexican Restaurant
146 W. Parkwood Ave., Friendswood
Hours: Mon.-Sat., 11 a.m.-10 p.m.; Sun. 11 a.m.-9 p.m.