MICO’S CASA ES SU CASA: “I look at these restaurants as our home,” says Michael “Mico” Rodriguez, CEO of M Crowd. “When things go right, it’s a beautiful experience.”
photography by Bode Helm
YOU NEED TO KNOW . . .
COMPANY: M Crowd Restaurant Group, parent company of Mi Cocina, Taco Diner, Mercury Grill, Mainstream Fish House, and Mercury Chophouse
TITLE: Founder and CEO
STATS: 1,200 employees; 25 restaurant locations across Dallas and Fort Worth, one location in Kansas City; $70 million in revenue in 2005; four million meals served per year; one margarita sold every six seconds
WHY YOU NEED TO KNOW HIM: You may not know his face, but you know his food. Michael “Mico” Rodriguez, 49, is the driving force behind perpetually packed Tex-Mex powerhouses Mi Cocina and Taco Diner. He was born into the business, busing tables at El Chico as early as age 6 alongside his mother, a cashier, and his father, an assistant manager. He worked there until his mother opened Mia’s Tex-Mex Restaurant in 1980. Eleven years later, Rodriguez unveiled Mi Cocina, a 12-table, nine-employee restaurant that would eventually grow to 15 locations and become a dietary staple of any Dallasite worth his salsa. Now the Big D’s main man in Mexican is setting his sights on the Big Apple, as he makes plans to take his Taco Diner concept to the mean streets of Manhattan. He’s confident the hip, urban eatery will catch on with Yankees and displaced Texans alike. “Right now it’s cool to be Mexican,” says Rodriguez, who expects to open the first New York location in 2008. “The timing is right.” Rodriguez insists that while he’s expanding beyond the Dallas city limits, he’s not leaving his hometown (and has projects in the works in Flower Mound and Allen to prove it). “I look at it as Dallas is sending its favorite son to New York City,” he says. “And I’m going to make it proud.”