For the past decade, Julio Garcia has run a restaurant company comprised of three Italian trattorias, a Spanish tapas bar, and his latest concept Ambriza that sees him return to the cuisine of his Mexican roots.
Julio’s experience in every aspect of the restaurant industry, working his way up from an immigrant dishwasher to successful owner, means he has an extreme appreciation for his staff. In fact, he considers enhancing their overall quality of life one of the business’ main goals and one of the key indicators of his restaurant’s success. Not only does this value of the employee respect translate into the unmatched service Ambriza is known for, it also means they have less staff turnover, meaning less time and money spent on new hires.
Award-winning house Margarita
While the dining room and bar at Ambriza is known for its outstanding service, the kitchen is known for the quality and authenticity of its dishes. They source ingredients with great care, using only premium cilantro from California, melted Menonita cheese made by northern Mexico’s Mennonite community, and top-shelf Jimador tequila (Mexico’s best-selling brand of tequila, with whom they have a partnership). The cost and effort to acquire these premium ingredients is higher than what other restaurants typically incur, but Julio is unrelenting in his pursuit of authentic ingredients that celebrate and pay respect to Mexico’s culinary heritage. Julio personally visits mezcal, tequila, and mole festivals in his home country in order to bring the best recipes, techniques, and inspiration back to Ambriza.
He even has his own mother come from Mexico every year to train the staff on her homemade cooking techniques and ensure that everything is true to their humble Mexican roots.
As with the restaurant’s first location, guest chefs from Mexico’s culinary hot spots — Veracruz, Oaxaca, and Mexico City — will regularly be invited to Ambriza to create featured menu items. Not only does this give regular customers something new to consistently look forward to, but has also resulted in some of the restaurant’s most enduringly popular dishes, such as chorizo and cheese stuffed plantains, tuna tostadas, and lettuce tacos with pork belly and blue cheese.
Street corn Quatro leches cake
Ambriza’s attention to detail regarding both its food and its service has paid off in the restaurant’s thousands of raving online reviews. Ambriza boasts over 4.5 stars on Yelp, Facebook, Google, and Trip Advisor, and people travel from all over the Houston area and beyond to visit. The team has plans to increase online marketing efforts with the opening of Ambriza Boardwalk, aiming to generate significant press citywide.
Having fine-tuned Ambriza’s first location for the past two years, Julio knows what is needed to keep the restaurant busy and profitable. Liquor sales continue to increase as Ambriza’s reputation for margaritas takes off, and happy hours and brunch services have been instituted in order to add new revenue streams. Julio will implement these revenue drivers at Ambriza Boardwalk. With the larger new location, Ambriza Boardwalk will also have increased catering capacity to add another source of revenue to a proven business model.