Gloria’s Latin Cuisine is a family owned chain of Salvadorian and Tex-Mex restaurants in Texas. Currently, they have 20 units in Dallas, Fort Worth, Arlington, Austin, Houston and San Antonio. In Dallas, the restaurants have become synonymous with good Mexican food and margaritas. One of the challenges the restaurant brand has faced is that while their focus is Salvadorian food with some Tex-Mex options, the Texas market is replete with small Mexican food cafes so consumers also identify any Latin cuisine as Mexican food. Management, through the years, has worked to shift consumer opinion by highlighting Salvadorian dishes and refining the atmosphere in their restaurants.
What started humbly in 1978 in Dallas has grown into a thriving business. Both Gloria and Jose Fuentes fled their homes in El Salvador amid the country’s civil unrest. Each made their way to the United States searching for peace and a better life for their families. In Houston, Texas, they met and began to explore new opportunities. Gloria’s sister was operating a small Salvadorian restaurant in the Oak Cliff neighborhood of Dallas, so they moved to work with her. When her sister decided to leave the restaurant a year later, Gloria and Jose jumped at the opportunity. Over the last thirty years, they have continued to build their restaurant group and share their love of Salvadorian food and culture. In recent years, some of their units convert into after-hours dance clubs to give patrons an opportunity to experience Latin music and culture.
In Texas, Mexican and Latin cuisine is ubiquitous. Small family owned taquerias and cafes are tucked into corners throughout the city. Most are cozy, casual establishments known for inexpensive tacos and enchiladas. While the food is frequently very good, the ambience and experience are lower quality. Management of the Gloria’s Restaurant Group have worked to change that. They have elevated Latin cuisine to a destination dining experience. This has broadened their customer base in the business sector. Business people can unapologetically take clients unfamiliar with the cuisine to experience this side of Texas culture. The restaurants also cater to families. While in the evenings, the tone changes somewhat as they see more couples on dates.
Gloria’s restaurants have redefined the image of a modern Latin restaurant in Texas. They have elevated the cuisine and environment to enhance each guest’s experience. While décor plays a major role in this effort, the staff’s apparel is also significant. Adhering to a black and white palette, waitstaff wear a long-sleeved, cotton, collared button up shirt, black pants, black tie and black apron. The shirt is usually black but occasionally white is used. This gives a consistently neat and professional appearance. Kitchen staff wear black coats with red piping or white coats with red piping. In this way, if they venture to the bar area or dining room, they are continuing the professional appearance. Both the chef’s coats and the front of house staff’s shirts have the restaurant’s logo embroidered on the left breast pocket area. Both the waitstaff’s shirts and the chef’s coats are always heavily starched for a neat, put together appearance. The attire allows staff to remain cool and comfortable as they move around the dining room, outdoor patio and kitchen or bar areas.
The maître d’ wears a jacket but is still coordinated with staff. Likewise, hostesses frequently wear dresses but appear to blend with staff. This sets them apart from waitstaff and gives an air of authority while maintaining brand standards. The combination of carefully curated interior décor and thoughtful staff uniforms have elevated the concept of Latin restaurants in Texas.