Andy Gugar is gearing up to open his fourth restaurant in Tyler.
Gugar opened Mercado's here in 1986. He has since added 16 Posados Cafe restaurants throughout East Texas, including Tyler and Lindale, as well as in Dallas/Fort Worth and Louisiana; and Happy's Fish House in Tyler.
Scott Nordon, of Prosper, serves as Posados' chief operating officer and recently discussed the plans for Gugar's newest local restaurant.
Gugar bought the 5,400-square-foot vacant building that formerly housed Pauline's Country Buffet, 3040 W. Gentry Parkway, a few years ago, he said.
"That north side of town is underserved with full-service restaurants," Nordon said, adding that they have received numerous calls about it since putting out the sign announcing a Posados will be going in there. "There's been some excitement and buzz, which is a pleasant surprise for us."
Nordon believes that with the Caldwell Zoo and several businesses close by, along with Atwoods moving closer and a new retail center being developed at the corner of Gentry Parkway and Loop 323, it will be a good area for a new restaurant.
"We've got a good brand and concept," he said. "I think it will be a good market for us."
He said they have a Fort Worth architect and construction company drawing up plans and getting ready to do four or five months of renovations he expects to start around March 1. He hopes the restaurant will open in August.
Nordon said they are going to put the emphasis of the renovations into the infrastructure of the building to make sure it will be a long-term investment.
He said he expects the restaurant to have 50 to 60 employees.
In the 1970's, Gugar started Hickory Fare Bar-B-Que, built the chain to five locations and sold it four years later. Gugar also built the Papacitas concept from the ground up and within three years, sold it.
In 1986, Gugar built Mercado's at 2214 WSW Loop 323. He expanded the Mexican restaurant business with the first Posados at 2500 E. Fifth St. From Tyler, Gugar expanded Posados with a location in Longview and it "has been growing ever since," Nordon has said. He ventured out to the Shreveport and Bossier City, La., market, then to Dallas.
Nordon said they are planning to open Posados on Texas Highway 155 South, between Tyler and Coffee City, and one in Athens, but when they found the property on Gentry Parkway, they pushed it ahead of those other projects. He said they will do the other two restaurants as the economy and cash permits. They also are looking into the Texarkana market for a Posados location, he added.
Happy's Fish House opened on Fifth Street in March and has since added breakfast food all day. "It seems to be doing pretty well," Nordon said, adding that he expects them to open additional Happy's restaurants in East Texas over time.
The company is growing "slow and steady," he said, adding that they are not in any hurry and want to do it right.
Nordon believes their philosophy works because it is so simple – buy and provide the best possible product, don't skimp on quality, offer large portions of food at a fair price for good value and offer great service in a great building.
"Treat them like they're a guest in your home and they'll come back," Nordon said. "That philosophy is part of why we've been in business since 1986."