After simultaneously owning and operating multiple restaurants over the last few years, Jose Lopez, Jr. says he’s decided take the focus back to Casa Real, his original concept. “I thought I could do it — my mind told me I could do it — but when I tried, the right elements of management weren’t there,” said Lopez, explaining the decision to streamline his business interests.
The original Casa Real opened in 2011 at 301 North Grand Ave., and in 2015 Lopez remodeled the building at 3100 West White Oaks Dr. that formerly housed Ginger Asian Bistro and opened a second location on the west side. Lopez closed the north end Casa Real location in 2017, but earlier this year opened No Way Jose’s Mexican Kitchen in the former Golden Dragon building at 425 North Grand Ave., just down the street from his previous restaurant.
“I sold part of No Way Jose’s to managing partner Oiris Morales,” said Lopez, explaining that Morales is now the majority owner. “I didn’t want to deal with the hiring and firing, and now I can focus on Casa Real again 100%.”
Lopez also recently closed Tacos Pepe, a brick-and-mortar location he opened at 2661 Chatham Rd. in 2017, shortly after Smashburger closed, to compliment his food truck of the same name. In addition, he briefly owned No Agenda 321, a bar and tapas restaurant in Chatham, after purchasing the business in May 2018 from Jamie Loftus. However, he sold the business later that year and it now operates as Sun Thai.
“Casa Real is known for quality food and service, and it struggled due to my over-extension,” acknowledged Lopez. “It was a distraction, but I’ve learned.”
Lopez said he is unveiling new lunch and dinner menus at Casa Real and recently finished remodeling the bathrooms. He is planning a celebration for the upcoming nine-year anniversary of the business.
“I’m able to focus more now; I’m done with the three-ring circus,” he said.