El Paso's Cheescake Factory culture, and how Chico's Tacos can heal us
by Lisa Degliantoni
Posted on June 23, 2009
Of course the fallout from Lopez gunning for a chain restaurant to open in Downtown hasn’t been that significant; just a few rants from readers to include “Come on El Pasoans and El Paso Times! Let's support local instead of national chains!” But what Lopez is stating with this innocuous blog post is the idea that what we’ve got locally isn’t good enough. Wrong. (Click here to read Lopez's post.)
Exhibit A: Chico’s Tacos. Last March, I took a handheld to Chico’s Tacos on Montana/Chelsea and shot a 1:50 minute video of co-worker illustrating how he eats Chico’s Tacos. The video was uploaded to You Tube and to date, more than 11,000 people have viewed it, posting comments like “I @#!%$^& love Chico’s!” Cheesecake Factory, Shmeezecake Factory. Hey, Paul Foster, here’s a free idea, put a Chico’s Tacos in the base of your new Mills Building and you will be crowned “El Rey del El Paso.” (Click here to watch the video.)
Exhibit B: I was on the radio weekdays for about six months and I could be conversing about sex, drugs and rock n’ roll, but if I said “Chico’s Tacos” out loud at any point of the show, numerous calls would pour in. Each caller would wax poetic about how much they love Chico’s Tacos. It showed such loyalty for the brand. No wonder Chico’s doesn’t advertise.
Exhibit C: Recently, I was at a Chico’s Tacos at 1:45 a.m. and the place was packed. Not one single table was open and everyone was there. I saw prom dresses, guys in bands, families with babies up too late, old men and old women. All ages, all backgrounds, everyone eating floating tacos.
Conclusion: Thousands of El Pasoans love to eat Chico’s Tacos (there are over 7,000 Facebook fans on the Chico's Tacos fan page) and everyone knows that the Chico’s owners won’t go west of Executive with a new place, so why not lure them Downtown?
Since joining the El Paso Times, Lopez has done a good job allowing some of his reporters to do what they do best -- Ramon Bracamontes' recent features are one example -- so why not recognize that if El Paso did what it did best, in this case serve up an authentic El Paso brand, the crowds would come?
In his yearnings for a Cheesecake Factory, Lopez highlights one of the greatest mysteries of El Paso: How the minority culture (the Cheesecake culture) manages to disregard the majority culture (the Chico’s Tacos culture) in every way. From ignorance of language to food to art to flora and fauna, I’m always amazed at El Paso’s Cheesecake culture and how cloistered it continues to be after all these years.
But I digress. I say we go with something proven to work, like a Chico’s Tacos, and put it right on San Jacinto Plaza and then watch the crowds come to Downtown. If that happens, Chris Lopez, I promise to buy you a double double.
Lisa Degliantoni is the Editor in Chief of El Paso Media Group. She periodically contributes to Newspaper Tree, when the spirit moves her, and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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