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EMCID helps with La Casita restaurant expansion

December 18, 2018

Operating as a family business for the past 20 years, La Casita Mexican Restaurant in Porter has grown as East Montgomery County expands, and it will continue to do so with the help of the East Montgomery County Improvement District.

After moving into a location where several other restaurants have called home in the past, the owners of La Casita — Alex Sanchez and Steve Rodriguez — wanted to renovate and remodel the spot to suit their brand and make it more welcoming to customers.

“My family and I had worked in various restaurants for years when this particular location became available; it was the perfect fit for La Casita,” said Rodriguez. “When we opened our location in Porter, we opened the doors within two weeks. While we had La Casita restaurants in other communities, this is our home and where we ultimately wanted to open an additional La Casita. We started from a blank slate and began to build from there.”

As they grew in popularity in the EMC community and beyond, EMCID President/CEO Frank McCrady along with a few of the Board of Directors met with La Casita’s owners during a visit to the restaurant to encourage them to seek out assistance, specifically through a small business loan through the East Montgomery County Economic Development Corporation to assist with improvements at the restaurant that will provide a better experience for customers.

EMCID offers cash and non-cash incentives to companies that locate or expand within the boundaries of the District. Incentive funds can be used for training, building improvements, furniture, equipment, fixtures and various needs. The EDC offers low-interest loans with flexible terms customized to fit businesses’ needs.

Rodriguez and Sanchez put together a plan for their expansion and renovation, which includes re-painting the inside and outside of the restaurant, expanding the overall square footage for additional seating, new flooring, wood detail on the front entrance, building a patio onto the back of the restaurant and re-paving the parking lot. The duo then presented that plan to McCrady.

“We presented our plan to the EMCID Board of Directors who approved our funding and wanted to help us with these projects; we couldn’t be more thankful,” said Rodriguez. “McCrady took the time out of his busy schedule to help us with the paperwork and EMCID is truly here to help us as a small business if it is needed. These improvements help us to create more jobs and improve our sales which, in turn, help the local economy.”

It’s the exact reason the EDC exists, says McCrady.

“We’re happy to help businesses with funding for these types of projects. We want you to grow. We want to help more people in East County find jobs here in our community. It’s a win-win for everyone,” said McCrady.

The owners of La Casita had already begun parking lot improvements, but the loan helped finish the job as well as the other projects. According to Rodriguez, lunchtime during the week, as well as Fridays and Saturdays, continue to be their busiest days which is why adding the patio on the back will help, especially for those customers who wish to enjoy their meal outside.

The patio is not expected to be completed until early 2019 since they want to make sure it is done right.

“The new patio will give our customers a chance to enjoy the weather,” said Rodriguez. “We will also have a fireplace for the colder months; 80 percent of the time we have temperate weather where our guests can enjoy a meal outside. Our customers are very loyal to us, so we thought they deserved better and wanted these improvements.”

La Casita was also able to purchase a van wrapped with their logos which has enabled them to grow their catering business, too. The van allows them to transport more food for larger catering jobs.

“We are very grateful to our customers and to EMCID, you all have helped us to be successful and provide the best for our customers,” said Rodriguez.

For more information on how EMCID and the EDC can help with business expansion and improvements, go to www.emctx.com/services/economic-development.

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