Mexican restaurant chain creating positive economic impact in eastern Tennessee


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KNOXVILLE, Tennessee (WATE) – It takes a lot of courage to come and settle in a new country. For many Latino or Hispanic immigrants, their food, culture, and entrepreneurial spirit have paved the way for many restaurants we enjoy in East Tennessee and across the country.

An owner of a Knoxville restaurant group says his family recipes have brought him great success. A trip to eastern Tennessee changed everything for Javier Zendejas 14 years ago.

“We liked it here and saw the potential. The people of Tennessee love Mexican food. They love it here, ”Zendejas said.

He immigrated to the area and built a brand of popular Mexican restaurants.

“Our family has Casa Don Gallo in Rocky Hill, Don Gallo in Hardin Valley, another Don Gallo in Choto by the lake, and this store is a new store. It’s a taco shop, ”Zendejas said.

Zalate Taqueria in North Knox County is the new spot on Stekoia Lane.

“A different conception. It is more like authentic Mexican street food. It’s just tacos – basically tacos and tequila, ”he laughs.

More than a taste of Mexico, but a taste of the house, like grandmother did.

“Like your grandmother teaches you to cook, to make beans, to make rice. That’s basically what we’re trying to do.

Zendejas brings these family recipes to their restaurant tables, and customers love every bite.

“Oh, my God, the food is amazing. It’s fresh Mex, very fresh[ican]. We like it. I come here at least three times a week, ”says loyal customer Catrina Beck.

For the Zendejas family, getting to know their customers is a special part of the business.

“For us, it’s like a source of pride to talk about our culture. to know that we are good people and that we like it here… You know, if you hold true, people like it. You make that connection with food, you know?

Connections with every bite.

There are nearly 50,000,000 Mexican restaurant businesses in the United States in 2021. An increase of about 3% from 2020 according to IBISWorld. Watch this story and more in our 2021 Hispanic Heritage Special Edition, here.

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About Vivian J. Smith

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