Tucked away in the Piney Woods of Riverside, a tiny cafe has become a must-visit destination for families in the area and passersby, offering the warmth of true southern hospitality to all who visit.
The restaurant and property owned by the Olivares family is hidden from the hustle and bustle of the highway, though the bright yellow and blue exterior boldly juxtaposes the remodeled 1930’s structure from the Piney Woods surrounding.
“We’re on the original Front Street that cut up into Riverside where it all started,” Frank’s Taco Station owner Frank Olivares said.
The roar of the occasional train blows by a small historical marker across the street from the property, a strong deciding point when the Olivares family was considering purchasing the property.
“History has always been a passion on our side … For one, you can’t bring it back, but this little corner, you could tell there was something different when we first started coming here,” Olivares said.
While the husband and wife team were working in the area as real estate agents with Keller Williams Advantage Realty, Olivares and his wife Sulma frequented the spot, then known as Ronnie’s Cafe, for their favorite bacon cheeseburgers.
When the former owner wanted to retire, the Olivareses sold her house and purchased the restaurant at the owner’s recommendation, though Olivares admits that they had no idea what they were in for – only the mild curiosity of entering the food industry and a strong draw to the location.
“There was a feeling inside every time I came in, you could tell the Holy Spirit was guiding me to this zone. It was different, because it was a supernatural feeling where I knew that God’s hand was over this and we just made the decision just like that,” Olivares said.
The Olivareses started the restaurant on a whim and a prayer, with two weeks training from the previous owner as a crash course in owning a cafe.
Olivares carried over many of the recipes and the staff, while adding their tacos and other dishes to create a South Texan style menu, accommodating the different tastes of everyone in their family.
The four page menu features cheeseburgers served on soft sourdough buns, chicken fried steak, barbacoa tacos and seafood options – all made from fresh ingredients prepared to order.
Homemade salsa, queso, chips and beans are prepared each morning in small batches, the restaurant’s ingredients all sourced locally at H-E-B for optimal freshness throughout the week.
Larger dishes are intentionally prepared as an option for families to split, with a complimentary ice-cream at the end of a meal for every kid to enjoy.
“I remember as child, wherever we went, my dad used to take us where they serve more or they would give something for free,” Olivares said, adding that the simple gesture has helped them reach their goal of bringing more families to the restaurant.
Frank’s Taco Station is obscured from the highway, but word of mouth advertising has been sending locals and passersby through their doors for over three years now, a feat that many doubted the realtors would be able to accomplish. The cafe currently holds an 82% return rate among their customers.
“I think this is where the Lord wants us right now, it’s a small place, it’s what a lot of people call a small town, but there’s lots of love and lots of things to explore around here if you just listen,” Olivares said.