Rita’s Burritos mixes customer service and authenticity

At Rita’s Burritos, customers are more than just a number or an order. Owner Gilbert Meraz said when customers come in, they are asked for their name so the staff can remember—and get to know—the regulars.

Meraz started the business with his wife, Darcie, and brother Mario in 2015 after leaving the corporate world to become his own boss. Since the very first day, Rita’s Burritos has been a favorite among customers.

“On the first day, it was just me, my wife, my brother and one other person,” Meraz said. “After one lady came in, she posted in the Facebook group Ocotillo Friends, and after that a ton of people started coming in. We sold out of everything the first day and had to close early and stay closed the next day to prepare all the food again. Then when we reopened, we had to close early again after we ran out of everything.”

Everything at Rita’s Burritos is made by hand, Meraz said. On a wall in the restaurant is a photo of the tortilla recipe Meraz finally settled on. He said it took weeks—and multiple notebooks full of recipes—to settle on a tortilla. He wanted it to be perfect.

“I knew the tortilla had to be the best,” Meraz said. “We wanted to do burritos, and we wanted it to be a menu of burritos you could only get here. The specialties section on the menu has things special to Rita’s.”

The store’s employees resemble more of a family than a staff, Meraz said. Some mornings, before the restaurant opens, they go across the parking lot to another eatery and have breakfast together, Meraz said.

“We are a family,” he said. “We are closed on Sundays; we close earlier than most restaurants every night. I want to spend time with my family; I want them to be able to go home and eat dinner and be with their kids before bedtime.”

The burrito shop will be open fives years this December, Meraz said. Now Mario runs a Rita’s Burritos in El Paso, Texas.

“We’ve been working hard; we pride ourselves in our food, but really we pride ourselves in our staff,” Meraz said. “Without them we wouldn’t be what we are.”