Daughter goes all in to save family's San Marcos restaurant

Shirley De Leon, owner of San Marcos restaurant Don Lorenzo, makes fresh tortillas with her husband, Jesse.

Shirley De Leon, owner of San Marcos restaurant Don Lorenzo, makes fresh tortillas with her husband, Jesse.

Behind the cash register at San Marcos Mexican restaurant Don Lorenzo is a framed picture with the words “When life gets too hard to stand … kneel.”


The picture holds special meaning for Shirley De Leon, who said she never planned to own the restaurant her mother and father started from a small house on Alamo Street in San Marcos in the 1980s.


“Sometimes you don’t know where life is going to take you,” De Leon said. “When I was young, we planned retirement. ‘At this point the kids are in college, at this point we finish paying for college, and at this point and at this point, and all of that.’ Well none of that [happened] because I ended up with cancer, and I ended up with all kinds of stuff.”


It was not until 2012, when she was nearing retirement from Hays CISD, that her father was at risk of losing the restaurant he and de Leon’s mother had built from scratch.


De Leon used her savings to keep the restaurant afloat and in the family. After stepping in with the loan, she took over management and ownership from her father.


Since then, she has worked to make the restaurant her own, she said.


One of the first changes de Leon made when she took over the restaurant was to ease the rules her father had enforced. First, the restaurant serves breakfast and lunch all day. De Leon said it was important to her that people who are getting off an all-night shift are able to order what would be their lunch or dinner in the early hours of the day.


“You come in at 5 in the morning, you want enchiladas—you know what I’m serving you?” De Leon said. “I’m serving you the enchiladas you want. If it’s 2 o’clock in the afternoon and I’m about to close and you want bacon and eggs, you’re going to get bacon and eggs.”


The second rule de Leon said she happily breaks now is a prohibition on allowing customers who come in alone to sit at one of the restaurant’s large tables rather than a two-seater. Instead, De Leon said customers should be able to choose where to sit.


“When you walk in, I want you to feel like you’re walking into your grandma’s house,” she said.

By Brett Thorne
Brett Thorne reported on education, business, economic development and city government in San Marcos, Kyle and Buda from 2012 to 2017. Thorne attended Texas State University in San Marcos, where he graduated in 2010. He joined Community Impact Newspaper as a reporter in 2012 and was promoted to editor in 2013.


MOST RECENT

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee recommended Johnson & Johnson’s one-shot vaccine for emergency authorization use Feb. 26. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine recommended for emergency authorization use by FDA

This is the third COVID-19 vaccine that has been approved for emergency authorization use after those produced by pharmaceutical company Pfizer and biotechnology company Moderna.

Snow covers I-45 in Houston during a winter storm that hit Texas the night of Feb. 14. (Shawn Arrajj/Community Impact Newspaper)
Legislators probe energy officials over power failures, lack of preparation heading into winter storm

The Texas Legislature held hearings Feb. 25 with energy companies including Oncor Electric Delivery and the Electric Reliability Council of Texas in response to last week’s historic winter storm, which left millions of Texans without electricity for days.

Jo's Coffee opened a North Austin location in January. (Courtesy Chad Wadsworth)
Jo's Coffee opens in Central Austin; new restaurant coming to Georgetown Square and more Central Texas news

Read the latest business and community news from the Central Texas area.

Any repairs using new pipes or fittings require a permit, which can be applied for by property owners or registered plumbers. (Warren Brown/Community Impact Newspaper)
Plumbing permit fees in San Marcos to be waived temporarily

Any repairs using new pipes or fittings require a permit, which can be applied for by property owners or registered plumbers.

As many as 31 stores across nine states will be shuttered as Fry's Electronics shuts down due to market changes and the pandemic. (Courtesy Qygen, Wikimedia Commons)
Fry's Electronics calls it quits after nearly 36 years in business

As many as 31 stores across nine states will be shuttered as Fry's Electronics shuts down due to market changes and the pandemic.

A lone runner jogs on a snow-covered road in Austin. Transportation projects across the city were briefly paused due to Winter Storm Uri. (Jack Flagler/Community Impact Newspaper)
ERCOT: Texas power system was less than 5 minutes from collapse during winter storm

ERCOT's CEO offered details into what led to the massive blackouts that left millions of Texans in the cold last week.

No street address has yet been assigned to the property, but the agricultural land lies closest to Bunton Creek Road and borders the southern boundary of Lehman High School. (Screen shot courtesy city of Kyle)
Kyle City Council approves residential zoning of 29 acres in first of two votes

The land, which was annexed by Kyle earlier this year, is next to Lehman High School and would allow 5.5 houses per acre.

Photo of Judge Brown in a mask and orange vest with megaphone
Travis County and 3 Central Texas neighbors to pilot mass vaccination site

Some 3,000 people will be vaccinated at a drive-thru event at the Circuit of The Americas this weekend.

In-person instruction at three Hays CISD campuses has yet to resume due to ongoing work necessitated by last week's severe weather. (Courtesy Hays CISD)
Three Hays CISD campuses still not ready for in-person learning due to last week's severe weather

In-person instruction at three Hays CISD campuses has yet to resume due to ongoing work necessitated by last week's severe weather.

Superintendent Michael Cardona presented the figures to the school board Feb. 22. (Screenshot courtesy SMCISD)
Latest San Marcos CISD figures show number of students attending in-person classes steadily increasing

The total number of in-person students throughout the district's campuses went from 3,523 on Jan. 25 to 4,712 on Feb. 11—a 33.75% increase.

Kyle joined San Marcos and Buda in ending boil water notices for their municipal water utility customers. (Amy Denney/Community Impact Newspaper)
Kyle lifts boil water notice

Kyle joined San Marcos and Buda in ending boil water notices for their municipal water utility customers.