Over the last 20 years, I’ve chased down more rumors about Mico Rodriguez than any other individual in the restaurant business. Sadly, most of the rumors turned out to be true. Rodriguez’s battles with his demons—drugs, weight, alcohol, money—have been well chronicled. So has his steady rise back to the thick of the restaurant industry. The success he achieved by starting over with Mr. Mesero, a 12-table spot on McKinney, led him into a new partnership and other locations of Mesero, a grander version of the original. Three Meseros—four if you include Mr. Mesero which operates under a separate partnership—are up and running. The company plans call for more. Expect a Mesero at Legacy West and The Shops at Clearfork in Fort Worth this year.
Last fall, the rumor mill started again. Whispers of “Mico is not in the restaurant” and “he’s been tossed out by his partners” came to me from his friends, employees, and peers in the restaurant business. In late November, I reached out to Trey Dyer, president of Mesero Restaurant Group. Dyer admitted Rodriguez had not been in the restaurant much and was concerned about his health. Rodriguez was diagnosed with prostate cancer almost two years ago and he had just completed a round of radiation.
The holidays came and went. The rumors continued. This week, I received five phone calls, two emails, and several Facebook messages all claiming that Rodriguez was no longer with the company.
I called Rodriguez on Saturday afternoon. He was working the floor at Mr. Mesero. I asked if he was out of the Mesero Restaurant Group. Here is what he said:
“Oh, no, no. I haves simplified the organization so I am not the director of operations, I am the founder. I don’t want to say I’m now Colonel Sanders. I still create and train. But I have partners do the work. I like staying closer to home. My cancer is in remission, but I have hot flashes and I’m tired. I don’t want a chaotic life. I remarried [former wife] Caroline. We’ve both changed. When I got sick, she was there. So it’s made my life stable as opposed to chaotic. I don’t do the minute-to-minute details or drive to locations. I don’t want to die on the Tollway.”
I reached out to Trey Dyer for his side of the story and have not received an answer. I will certainly update this post if I do hear back from him.
Update: I received a voice mail from Trey Dyer. He did not receive my messages. We have traded phone calls.
Update: This statement from Trey Dyer, president of Mesero Restaurant Group.
As discussed, Mico has been and will always be the founder and creator of Mesero. Given his continued battle with cancer and his wish to simplify his life in order to focus on his family and personal health, Mico decided to scale down his role in the day-to-day operations, leaving the company to move the brand forward with his continued help and support as a creator, mentor, and business partner. Furthermore, there has been no change in the ownership structure of Mesero Restaurant Group and Mico continues to serve, as he always has, on the board of managers to take the brand, our employees and most of all, our guests, into Mesero’s future.
We may never know what Rodriguez’s role is in the company. You might not even care, especially given the fact that he is battling cancer. But his face, story, and reputation are the building blocks on which the Mesero concept was built. You hear his name; your taste memory tastes his food. If he’s out, it’s another sad chapter in the life of Mico Rodriguez. If he’s not, pass the brisket tacos.