Amezcua family

The Amezcua family in front of their new restaurant, Skillets, 2003 Veterans Blvd. From left, Eddie Amezcua Jr., Leticia Amezcua, Eduardo Amezcua Sr. and Leticia Echavarria.

Del Rio’s Amezcua family hopes to recreate the success of its first Queen City eatery with their purchase of Skillets restaurant, an iconic local food and meeting place.

Leticia and Eduardo Amezcua Sr. bought Skillets restaurant, 2003 Veterans Blvd., in July and took ownership Aug. 1.

The Amezcuas also own Buffalo Wings & Rings, 3600 Veterans Blvd., which they opened nearly a decade ago. Their son, Eddie Amezcua Jr., runs restaurant operations there, as he will for the newly-acquired Skillets property.

The Amezcuas said they will also be joined by one of their daughters, Liliana Echavarria, at Skillets. Echavarria has been named general manager of the property.

“We really want to turn this into a family business. Before, it was just the three of us, and now Liliana will be joining in,” Eduardo Amezcua said.

Another Amezcua daughter, Claudia Zeidler, resides in Fort Worth, Texas, where she works as a schoolteacher.

Zeidler attended culinary school and will offer advice and suggestions on the menu, the Amezcuas said.

The elder Amezcua said Buffalo Wings & Rings has been very successful in the area, noting it routinely places within the top 10 percent of the franchise’s outlets.

As part of a franchise, though, the Amezcuas were required to do things a certain way at Buffalo Wings & Rings.

“Franchises provide a lot of tools for you, but with the experience we’ve had over 10 years there, the tools that they’ve provided us, from customer service to marketing to the kitchen, we’ll implement some of those here, without being told, ‘You can’t do this,’ or ‘You can’t do that,’” Eddie Amezcua said.

Skillets, they said, will give them a chance to let their creativity shine.

“It was a great opportunity, and we’ve always been about trying to give back to the community as much as we can, and we felt we could build something else and bring in my sister, so we can build for our future and build the family legacy as well,” Eddie Amezcua added.

“It’s been my daughters’ dream, because they were always doing things together, to have a café or something like that, so as Eddie said, when the opportunity came to buy this . . . we decided to try it,” Leticia Amezcua said.

Eduardo Amezcua said both of his daughters are talented bakers, and he said in the future, Skillets will begin offering homemade pies, cakes and other pastries.

“We saw an opportunity here. We’ll do a little facelifting, and we will have something here, I think,” Eduardo Amezcua said.

“We came in here with the understanding that Skillets belongs to Del Rio. It’s the very center of Del Rio. Grandpas brought their grandkids here, and we’ve been kind of blown away by the acceptance we’ve gotten,” Eddie Amezcua added.

Long-time patrons have offered advice and suggestions.

As for changing the menu, Eduardo Amezcua said he and his family will “add on a few breakfast items you normally don’t see here in Del Rio,” like Eggs Benedict.

They also plan to add a wider variety of sandwiches to the menu.

“We want a café feel, an old-school diner feel,” Eduardo Amezcua said.

They said they plan to tear down the dishwashing station in front of the restaurant kitchen and install a counter with stools, where patrons can sit and sip coffee and eat a meal.

The Amezcuas said they also want to honor tradition.

“My parents are all about service. My mom was a teacher for 27 years, and my dad is the nicest man you’ll ever met. He wants everyone to be happy and to make everyone laugh,” Eddie Amezcua said. “The service they’ve instilled in us, we asked ourselves, ‘What else can we do in a business form that serves Del Rio?’”

The elder Amezcua said he knows employees are the heart of the business.

“We don’t consider our employees as numbers. We consider them to be family. We treat them with respect, and we expect the same. We’re closer than maybe a lot of other big franchise restaurants, where the owners don’t know their employees by first name, and that’s something we’d like to instill here as well, to have a fun, family atmosphere, because you have to love what you do,” Eduardo Amezcua said.

“Customer service and the quality of the product are the two things we try to concentrate on all the time. How do you say it? You can have the best steak, but if you throw it at your customers, they’re not going to like it,” Eddie Amezcua added.

“We’re going to keep it traditional. We want to bring in more fresh stuff. We want to be known for our pancakes. We want to be known for our chicken-fried steak,” he said.

The Amezcuas have redesigned the restaurant’s logo, a rayed yellow sunrise with the restaurant’s name spelled out in a fun, modern font.

“We have the faith; we have the hope, and we’re just going to add the love,” Leticia Amezcua said.

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