Family Recipe: Success
Family eatery relies on NB|AZ for business needs
By Debra Gelbart
In 1964, a young Phoenix couple became the unlikely owners of what would become a highly successful restaurant concept. Manuel and Alice Salazer had no background in operating an eatery; Manuel worked in construction and Alice was a housewife.
But they were inspired by Manuel’s sister, who owned another popular restaurant chain. “My mom and dad decided to follow suit,” said their son, John, who today is president of Manuel’s Mexican Food Restaurants. The original location for Manuel’s was 32nd Street and Indian School in Phoenix.
Today the company has seven Valley locations. Salazar attributes the company’s longevity to consistently good food, dedicated employees and “the family continuing to work together. We’ve now got a third generation of the family working for the company,” Salazar said, adding that some of the company’s employees have been there for decades, including a cook who retired after 40 years of service.
John Salazar said Manuel’s has received “numerous awards for our quality food and we maintain that quality by preparing our food from scratch daily, just as we did in 1964.” Alice’s recipes continue to comprise much of the menu.
In the 1980s, Salazar needed financing to open new restaurants and obtained a loan from National Bank of Arizona. Though his father’s philosophy was to “pay cash for everything,” the increase in costs for land and buildings necessitated a more balanced approach.
“National Bank of Arizona has been an essential part of the expansion of Manuel’s. NB|AZ is our ‘go-to’ lender for all of our projects,” he said. “They are the ‘business bank’ of Arizona, far surpassing other lenders in meeting the needs of our business.”
Doing business in Arizona has been wonderful for the company, said chief financial officer Alex Romero, Salazar’s brother-in-law. “The weather’s great here and we love the diversity of activities available, especially those that attract winter visitors.”