Papi’s Tex-Mex has been more than a place to get a good meal for the last six years in Argyle. It’s been a place many have considered home.
But the family-owned restaurant on Hwy 377 will serve its last enchilada dinner and lock-up its doors at 2 p.m. Oct.7, forcing the Gonzales’ to say good-bye to their customers and more than 30 employees.
“Every time I go in the dang place; I cry. I feel like I lost my best friend,” said Lisa Bigrigg, who’s worked at the restaurant for four years.
Owner Jane Gonzales said the building, which they leased, was recently purchased by a “prominent local investor,” who will be using the space for a new business.
“Whatever comes in, we wish them the best,” Gonzales said, adding that she hopes the community will support the new owner.
Many teens found their first job at Papi’s, often bussing tables or working in the kitchen.
But Brenda Kuketz, who has an eye disease that left her visually impaired, had not worked outside her home for more than 15 years. Gonzales hired her as a hostess; providing her with more than a job. She gained independence.
“Brenda is one of the best hostesses we’ve ever had,” said General Manager Desiree Cox.
For others, it was a place to start over. The family often helped those who needed someone to give them a chance.
“Let’s give this person a shot,” said Bigrigg, of the owners’ desire to help others.
Still some found Papi’s was a place to form friendships.
“It’s put people together who might have never come together,” said Cox, who is also the owners’ daughter.
The Gonzales’ have attended funerals, weddings and celebrated birthdays with their customers and employees over the years.
“It’s a place where everyone can call home,” Cox said.
Since the announcement of its closing, Gonzales said customers have been sharing their favorite memories of Papi’s.
“There have been a lot of tears,” Gonzales said.
Papi’s served the community in a number of ways, including offering an incentive for students at Harpool Middle School. Kids who made the honor roll were offered a limousine ride and a free lunch at Papi’s.
But one event that stands out for many is Thanksgiving. Since opening in 2006, Papi’s has offered a free Thanksgiving meal to all.
Last Thanksgiving Day; nearly 400 were served a free holiday meal. Papi’s has been a place for the community; a place where people could come to Christ and feel connected, Cox said.
“It really has served that purpose,” she said.
The toughest thing for Gonzales was telling the employees, but she believes her daughter, Cox, took it the hardest. They are hoping to find a new location in the future, but she says they haven’t secured a new spot at this point.
Gonzales enjoys “being able to share our family’s recipes with people,” often “blessing” someone with their meal if the staff knew the person was experiencing financial difficulties.
“We didn’t make much money, but we made a lot of lifelong friends.”