By CASEY MURPHY, firstname.lastname@example.org
Manuel “Manny” Vela wants to bring back the traditional Tex-Mex dishes served at Gilbert’s El Charro in Tyler for nearly 70 years.
Vela, 50, of Tyler, and his wife, Ana Ramirez, plan to open El Charro on The Ridge this fall, Vela said.
On Thursday, he signed a contract with Oakhill Properties to lease the building that formerly housed Zaza’s, at 6899 Oak Hill Blvd., next to FRESH by Brookshire’s. Zaza’s closed July 2 after about a year in business.
Gilbert’s El Charro restaurant closed its No. 1 restaurant on Erwin Street and its No. 2 restaurant on Fifth Street on June 28.
Started by the late Gilberto Ramirez more than 69 years ago, El Charro was one of the oldest family-owned restaurants in the area.
Vela said Thursday that El Charro on The Ridge will offer the same foods served at Gilbert’s El Charro, but it is a different corporation. It will be owned by Vela and his wife, and no other Ramirez family will be a part of it, he added.
Vela said he plans to have 80 to 100 employees at the restaurant, including cooks from El Charro Nos. 1 and 2. Pablo Molina, who cooked for El Charro for 42 years at the No. 1 restaurant, will be working at the new restaurant, he added.
“I think it’s going to do really well,” Vela said.
He said their goal is to continue to serve East Texas with the original Tex-Mex food served by the Ramirez family for the last 70 years.
Vela said work will begin Tuesday to redo the kitchen and bar and to add “more authenticity” to the space. He plans to open the restaurant in late October or early November.
For more, visit www.elcharroontheridge.com .