Willing to take chances, especially when it has come to helping his father’s longtime business of the Los Reyes restaurant, José Jr. received a phone call four years ago that would change his life.
While riding back from starting up a Mexican restaurant in Ohio, José got a urgent call from his brother Ricardo. He said the Los Reyes in Atoka had burned down.
“You’re lying, dude,” José told Ricardo. “There’s no way it caught on fire.”
With Ricardo known as a joker, Jose hung up the phone and placed a call to the Atoka Fire Department. The official confirmed that Ricardo was telling the truth.
“It was the morning of Celebrate Munford,” José recalled. “Ever since then, we reopened and it took about a year. But this one here is 100 percent mine.”
The one José is talking about it the new José’s Mexican Street Food at 225 Munford Ave.,e Suite B, beside the Shell gas station in Munford.
“My Dad is not involved in it at all,” he said. “I reopened Los Reyes about a year later on the Munford side. We tried to do the Los Reyes thing, but I just feel like I wanted to do something that is different. Introduce you guys to something different. You might be able to find it in Memphis but you cannot find it up here.”
What José is bringing to Tipton County is old school Mexican food.
“I’m going outside of our box,” he noted. “My dad started with Los Reyes. A lot of people know Los Reyes. I kind of want to do my own thing. I want to bring Mexico to the customers for the customers who can’t go to Mexico with our new food. Our new concept will be transitioning into José’s Mexican Street Food. That consists of traditional Mexican street food.
“I want to get this clear,” José continued. “A lot of people will be confused. Street food is not healthy. It’s greasy. We’ve had issues with that, with customers saying, ‘Oh, your food is too greasy.’ It’s greasy because it’s not healthy. The only thing we might have that you could consider healthy is our protein tacos, which is made with a romaine leaf lettuce. Other than that it’s greasy tacos. We deep fry them – traditional stuff.”
The Los Reyes’ name is known across the Memphis area for nearly 30 years of operation. Recognized as the first authentic Mexican restaurant in the Memphis area, his father’s establishments are currently located at 3024 Covington Pike in Memphis and 7712 Highway 51 in Millington.
Now branching off, José will team up with his wife Courtney and sisters Nayeli and Jennifer to bring the Mexican food carts and food trucks to a restaurant setting. With a building and the only patio in Tipton County, he is ready to unleash his concepts to the public.
“We want to take advantage of that,” he said. “We’re working on bringing in a snack bar, dessert bar and an ice cream shop kind of thing to where we will sell homemade popsicles.
“This is a food truck in a building,” José added. “I’ve been thinking about it for a while. I like to be different. Folks who know me and family who knows me, I don’t mind taking risk. If it goes well or if it goes bad, I’m not the type of person who goes, ‘What if I had done this?’ I like to take a risk.”
The new venture began Jan. 4, and Jose’s Mexican Street Food updated its menu March 1, featuring specialty burritos, fried tacos, el gigante items, fresh fruit and even Mexican coffee.
“We have a record of 43 five-star reviews,” José said. “I believe not a single bad one. We do the homemade corn tortilla here. We actually have the wooden machine back there that they would use in Mexico.
“This is not Tex-Mex,” he noted. “We do not have the ground beef or the shredded chicken. This is 100 percent, authentic grilled meats. You have about six meats you could choose from right now.”
His cousins Eliseo and Leobardo will be the primary cooks creating the meals for customers.
“We want to let the customers know that when you come into José’s Mexican Street Food, it’s all family working here,” José said. “It’s me, my wife, I have two sisters helping me out and in the kitchen we have two cousins. So it’s all family. Who else is going to take better care of you than a whole family. Nothing better than a family-owned small business in Munford, Tennessee, Millington, Atoka, Brighton. All the small towns around us have supported us a lot.”
José said he will continue his family’s tradition of giving back to the communities through fund raisers and charity. Now he hopes his creation will become a part of the fabric of South Tipton County.
“Family is going to take care of you,” he concluded. “Family is always going to take care of you. It is different from Los Reyes. We’re slowly transitioning to José’s Mexican Street Food. And we want to welcome everybody and everyone if you guys are in the mood for different or change. Come check us out.”
For more information about José’s Mexican Street Food, call (901) 837-7090 or give them a like on Facebook.