Los Panchitos returns to Huntsville

Michelle Wulfson | The ItemLos Panchitos re-opened in the heart of Huntsville last Thursday in its new location off of Normal Park Drive and 11th Street. Pictured clockwise from top left: Manuel Roque, Jaime Lopez, Alejandra Almanza, Bianca Lugo, Penny Lopez, Jose Lugo, Jackie Figueroa, Fernando Lopez, Gisel Almanza and Grecia Almanza.

Excitement blazed on social media in anticipation of Los Panchitos’ grand opening last Thursday after seemingly disappearing for nearly five years, however owner Fernando Lopez said that many don’t realize that they’ve been close by all along.

In December 2014, nearing the end of his lease contract, Lopez was abruptly forced out of his most notable location in a shopping center that has since been demolished and turned into a bustling HEB on 11th Street. Lopez spent 15 months searching for a new location to compliment his second restaurant in Trinity, and settled on a new space off of I-45 for two years. However, Lopez noted that many of his repeat customers might not have know of the location and that business was not as good.

Now, located in the heart of Huntsville at 11th Street and Normal Park Drive, and closer to his former customer base, Lopez said it feels good to see those familiar faces again.

“The older customers are coming back and they’re more excited because they have memories from the old one,” Los Panchitos owner Fernando Lopez said.

The restaurant faced slight criticism upon its grand opening last Thursday, however the event grew a larger crowd than expected and the staff was still working on finding their rhythm.

“We didn’t really have the team set up yet so it was kind of crazy, then once we got more settled and people became more comfortable, we knew everything was going to be fine,” Los Panchitos hostess Gisel Almanza said. Now, Almanza is proud to say that she is hearing all positive feedback.

“The clients have said that it’s better than how it was, and that it brings back the memories of the old place,” Almanza said.

The same Lopez family recipes that has gained a loyal following can still be found on the menu, though it is clear that his customers come for the staff just as much as the enchiladas.

Lopez considers Los Panchitos to be a family business, even though he lives in Dallas, where his restaurant originated. 15 years ago, Lopez decided to move Los Panchitos to Huntsville for better business and friendlier customers. Many of the current staff members have since followed Lopez from past locations in the area, Almanza’s family included.

Lopez and staff members hope that this new location will stick for a long time to come.