New Clients } by OFB Press | Comments (0)
OFB is incredibly excited and proud to announce it's newest restaurant client, El Fenix. The great Tex-Mex franchise was sold in late 2008 to a private group. OFB is partnering with the new ownership to serve as a brand shepherd. The OFB strategic team recently completed a 6 week study of the franchise and made recommendations to execute what we are calling a brand restoration. Our hope is to solidly position and define the brand for future growth. That should relieve some of you El Fenix fans. We are not here to change what is great about this brand. We are here to bring back, retain, and revive all that is great about El Fenix and make sure it continues to flourish in its own uniquely authentic way. Being loyal fans ourselves, we feel confident we can accomplish this mission in collaboration with the new ownership and the insight of Martinez family members who remain on board. "We intend to to bring quality design back to El Fenix...it's inherently part of the brand but has just been lost over the last 20 years," said OFB Drover Ben Jenkins.
The history of El Fenix
The story of El Fenix begins in Old Mexico where Mike Martinez was born in 1890. Early in life, the founder of El Fenix learned what it was to endure hardships and long hours of labor, with only brief periods of rest in between. He started to work at the age of seven, driving a string of burros to and from the mines for only a few pennies a week. Later, at the age of fifteen, Mike would go to work in the mines for years. With his meager wages, he supported himself and his mother. After her death, Mike Martinez left his native land for the United States. He eventually arrived in Dallas, where he got a job washing dishes at the old Oriental hotel, then located across from the Adolphus Hotel. There he learned the art of cooking, first from observation and later as a cook's helper.
In 1918, Mike felt he knew enough about catering to the Dallas restuarant trade to go into business for himself. He opened a small eating place on the corner of Griffin Street and McKinney Avenue in that part of Dallas, then known as "Little Mexico".
However, when Mike first opened his eating place, he served only American dishes. On insistence of many of his customers, who saw him eating his native foods, he began to prepare Mexican dishes as well as creations of his own. Soon Mike's other customers acquired the taste for enchiladas, chili, tamales and frijoles a la Tex Mex. Thus, on September 15, 1918 a food revolution was started in Dallas at El Fenix.
Mike's menu and friendly atmosphere drew more and more customers from all parts of Dallas until a move to larger quarters became necessary. He purchased and converted a grocery store building at 1608 McKinney. Here Mike's vision, energy, and capacity to work long hours were given full expression.
From this point forward, "The Story of El Fenix" is also the story of the Mike Martinez family. A short time before Mike opened his first cafe, he married the beautiful and gracious Faustina Porras. Their children grew up in the cafe business. As each boy grew up, Mike gave him practical experience in the cooking and serving of El Fenix foods. Reluctantly, Mike also permitted his daughters to help as hostesses, cashiers, and with business details.
When World War II descended on the U.S., Mike said good-bye to his four grown sons in succession as each answered his country's call to service. Then, following the safe return of his sons from the Armed Services, Mike Martinez decided to retire from El Fenix in favor of his children. Calling them together, he entrusted them with continuing his vision and dream. El Fenix Restaurants now has many locations in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex.
As for Mike, he believed more than ever in the symbolism of the El Fenix name. He saw himself, in this new cycle of his life, as more vigorous through the achievements of his family. Mike Martinez died on February 22, 1956.