Open since 1983, Lupe Tortilla was founded by Judson and Peter Holt’s parents—Stan and Audrey Holt—in the Houston area. The brand’s signature fajita recipe and menu of fresh Tex-Mex was crafted by the husband-and-wife duo, and the 45-seat restaurant drummed up quite a following in the small Addicks community through the years.
“People were standing in line to get into, what I could tell you knowing what I know now, is a terrible location,” says Peter Holt, partner and chief development officer for the brand today. So he and now-CEO Judson asked, How would the concept do in a great location?
After opening a second store in 1997, the brothers, who both graduated from The Culinary Institute of America, realized that the concept could do pretty darn well. They opened the third and fourth restaurants quickly after that and have been experiencing steady growth ever since, including outposts in Houston, San Antonio, Austin, and now Dallas. The chain numbers 20 units today.
The menu at Lupe is comprehensive, including everything from carne asadas to tacos, enchiladas, sopas, appetizers, and grilled specialties. The difference between Lupe and other Tex-Mex establishments is the care the team puts into each dish. Tortillas are rolled by hand in each restaurant throughout the day. Each restaurant processes its own beef in-house, produces its own hot sauce, and squeezes each lime by hand. One of the most difficult challenges Peter and Judson experienced while growing the concept was not giving into convenience and moving away from fresh ingredients. “There are a lot easier ways to do this, but we’ve not been able to find anything that produces the same flavors and quality,” Holt says.