In November 2013, three brothers and several other members of the Nunez family combined decades of cooking experience and a passion for customer service to launch their first establishment in Magnolia—Hacienda Real Mexican Restaurant.
"We teach our waiters in training—if you receive somebody [like you do] at your house with open arms and you can keep them happy, that's all you have to do," Assistant Manager Manuel Deleon said. "It's been a big, big success. A lot of people keep coming here because they feel like it's their second home."
After migrating to Texas in the late 1970s, brothers Gabriel Sr., Angel and Juan Nunez began racking up experience at Mexican restaurants in Houston, including El Gallo, El Charro and Guadalajara. Gabriel Sr. climbed his way up the ladder from working as a dishwasher at El Charro in 1979 to serving as co-owner of Tony's Mexican Restaurant in The Heights and Katy until early 2013.
Over the past 30 years, Angel became co-owner of Juanita's Mexican Restaurant, and Juan pitched in his experience at Tony's and Juanita's alongside his brothers. In early 2013, Gabriel Sr. sold his ownership in Tony's and decided to invest in a new restaurant venture.
"Of all the restaurants [Gabriel Sr.] has opened, [Hacienda Real] has grown the fastest," Manager Gabriel Nunez Jr said. "I think what made us grow this fast is we've got more experience. It's hard to find a place where you get good service, and I think that's what makes us different."
While surveying potential real estate options in Magnolia, the Nunez family purchased the former Las Fuentes Mexican Restaurant location on FM 1488 and began repainting and renovating the location with new booths, fans, tables, chairs and floors in June 2013, Deleon said. Deleon, who has worked at Gabriel Sr.'s restaurants for 10 years, attributes the early success of Hacienda Real to the authentic Mexican dishes and quality customer service.
"The customers are very happy," Deleon said. "In the one month that I've been here, already we're getting a lot of new customers. [Gabriel Sr.] has been invited to several of the customers' homes for parties because they like him and trust him."
Nunez family recipes are the backbone behind each dish made at Hacienda Real. In addition, the restaurant offers delivery and catering services for a variety of community events, such as church and school functions, weddings and company parties.
Since October, Hacienda Real has hired five new employees, bringing its total to about 35 staff members, including the owners, chefs and waiters, Gabriel Jr. said. In keeping with the restaurant's family bond, the eldest Nunez brother, Eliseo, works as the main chef in the kitchen, and Gabriel Sr.'s other son, Rigo, serves customers as a waiter.
With the growth of Hacienda Real, Gabriel Jr. said the Nunez family plans to open a second location of the restaurant in either Katy or Cypress within the next year. Regardless of any plans for additional future restaurants, the No. 1 goal is to continue providing quality food and customer service, he said.
"We're looking at the future and looking forward to grow and expand," Gabriel Jr. said. "We don't want to do a big change because you forget about where you started. We don't regret [anything] about coming here. The experience we've had is just nice—people have liked us here."
- Fajitas del mar: The dish is made with 5 ounces of beef or chicken fajitas, two shrimp, four bacon-wrapped scallops grilled with onions and bell peppers served with charro beans, pico de gallo, rice and guacamole. ($15.95)
- Chicken or beef enchiladas: The meal consists of three ground beef or shredded chicken enchiladas topped with gravy or Spanish sauce and cheese and is served with rice and beans. ($9.95)
- Pollo Hacienda: The dish consists of a large grilled chicken breast topped with melted Monterrey cheese, roasted Poblano peppers, bacon, sauteed onions and mushrooms served with rice and pico de gallo. ($13.95)
- Alambre especial: The meal features a skewer of shrimp, beef fajitas, chicken and grilled vegetables. ($14.95)
Hacienda Real Mexican Restaurant, 6960 FM 1488, Magnolia 281-305-0595, www.haciendarealtexmex.com, Hours: Mon–Thu. 11 a.m.–9:30 p.m., Fri.–Sat. 11 a.m.–10 p.m., Sun. 11 a.m.–9 p.m.