Albert, Jr. & Jorge Suarez

The pandemic hit hard and fast, and restaurants everywhere took a deep, scary dive into territory unknown. Local restaurants struggled to find fresh ideas to continue serving their customers.

A true Texans helping Texans company, H-E-B, launched a new program to support restaurants around this great state. Two McAllen restaurants, Koko’s Mexican Restaurant and Salt-New American Table were invited to supply meals from their menus and bring their food fares to various H-E-B stores around the Valley.

“We had the opportunity to put eleven plates in H-E-B, fully cooked and microwavable,” said Albert Suarez, Jr., co-owner of Koko’s Mexican Restaurant. “After that program ended, we continued to partner with H-E-B and opened a state-inspected manufacturing plant.”

Keeping the operation, a family affair, both Albert and Jorge’s daughters run the plant. It started in seven H-E-B stores, and are currently in 20 stores from Laredo to San Benito and Port Isabel.

The brothers like to think they have entered the world of convenience with their grab and go meals. Only three minutes in the microwave and you have a delicious Mexican cuisine meal on your table.

“People who didn’t know about us ate our food from H-E-B and now they come to the restaurant,” Albert said.

The brothers are tremendously grateful they never had to let one employee go during the pandemic disaster.

“We called a meeting to talk to our employees and some were crying because they thought we were closing down,” Albert explained. “The dining room was closed but we had the curbside and were delivering to homes for free. The support we received from the community was unbelievable. That support was for our employees, whom they tipped extremely well, with some customers coming two and three times a week.”

In business for 30 years as of last October, the Suarez brothers are working harder than ever to show the community their appreciation for the support and have hired another 20 people.

“We want to thank the community for backing us and helping us by buying our product at the H-E-Bs,” Albert and Jorge nodded in agreement. “We thank them because without them helping us we wouldn’t be where we are today, working harder than ever.”

(To find an H-E-B with Koko’s food, check their website