This has been a busy year for the iconic local restaurant brand, Mi Cocina. Not only has it launched a wildly popular new food truck, it has remodeled its flagship Highland Park Village location and the equally-famous adjoining Monkey Bar. We caught up with M Crowd CEO Edgar Guevara to talk about what’s up next for DFW’s favorite Tex-Mex restaurant.
You’ve been at the helm of M Crowd for just about two years now. What has it been like to put your own stamp on a restaurant that is already so well known and loved by generations?
EG: As someone who was a loyal guest at Mi Cocina for nearly 15 years before joining the company, I can tell you it has been a great honor to be entrusted with a brand like this. Mi Cocina has held a special place in my life, in my family’s lives. I always had amazing food and margaritas with great service and would come away feeling like I should have been paying more for the experience. It was an unbelievable value. But I distinctly remember when I noticed things changing over the years as a guest. Many companies change as they grow – it’s a natural process – but at some point you have to look back and ask “what was the original success of the brand founded on and how can we retain that?”I wouldn’t say I’m putting my own stamp on it, but really returning Mi Cocina to its roots.
What led to this realization that you needed to get back to your roots?
I spent a significant amount of time talking to our most tenured managers and team members, many of whom have been with the restaurants for 15-20 years, seeking to understand what changes were made that compromised the foundation of our brand. These team members are both our memory and our guide to the future. I quickly realized that we had altered many of our core recipes, we were not operating our restaurants like we had in the past and the sense of pride and community within our restaurants had deteriorated. Some of the most foundational things, the essence of Mexican hospitality, the desire to serve, culture, the core foundation of what we were about, had all been affected. The priority was to get our restaurants and recipes back to the high standards that I and many others remembered. We need to be comfortable with being Mi Cocina, who we were 28 years ago and sticking to our core beliefs and values.
So are guests going to see a lot of changes?
I don’t think so – the changes are very subtle. We want to make the restaurants feel more like they were when we were smaller. We’re making small changes here and there and the goal is for loyal guests to think, “I can’t put my finger on it but they’re back.”
We need to be comfortable with being Mi Cocina, who we were 28 years ago and sticking to our core beliefs and values.
We are also beginning to operate our restaurants as we used to, which means we’re giving more autonomy to our restaurant managers and team members who know each location has its own unique guest base, history, and neighborhood attributes. They know you when you walk in. We want to preserve that, because our loyal guests are the reason for our success.
What else is keeping you inspired these days?
So many things. We are about to launch our second Mi Cocina food truck later this fall that will help us introduce new people to the brand. New menu items, more remodels, lots of things keep me engaged and excited. But what truly inspires me is the amazing foundation we have been built upon. It starts with our people and guests. I’m proud to say that our restaurants are the familiar places where memories have been made, milestones celebrated, and new generations of guests and team members are being introduced to Mi Cocina.