Albert & Jorge Suarez, Co-owners
Koko’s Mexican Restaurant
Love sometimes leads people to do things that surprise all those around them. Take the story of Albert and Jorge Suarez, co-owners, Koko’s Mexican Restaurant on north 10th Street.
At 49 years of age, Carmen Mery Suarez, the beloved mother and wife of the Suarez family was gone. Though she and her husband, Alberto Z. Suarez, had a clothing store, her dream had always been to follow in her brother’s footsteps and open a restaurant.
Jorge had worked in his uncle’s restaurant, and found he had a talent cooking.
“A few months after my mom died I
went to Jorge and said, ‘Let’s open a restaurant. I’ll be the waiter and you be the cook,’” Albert said. “I was 21 and he was 18. We started out with 10 tables in downtown McAllen.”
Expanding to 28 tables across the street, then to north 10th, they are the epitome of the slogan, “never give up.” After being told by a banker before they even opened that they would never be successful, Albert saw that banker in the long waiting line their first week in business.
“I made the wrong choice, didn’t I?” the banker said.
“You just did what you thought you had to do,” Albert replied.
Today, Koko’s is a household name in McAllen.Adding a top notch catering department keeps the brothers hopping, even after 28 years in business.
“We have a separate catering kitchen with chefs who work with us,” said Albert. “Jorge has a gift when it comes to taking his catering designs to the next level, whether it be weddings, company events, quinceañeras, or any other affairs. We can do anything a person wants.”
Proud of their successes, they acknowledge that their mother, their inspiration, still has influence.
“I think our mother pulls our ears once in a while!” Albert said. “But, it’s fun meeting all the different kinds of people we encounter. You have to be a people person to be in this business.”
With adult children now joining in the business, it continues to be a family affair. The Austin market is their next target.
Without a doubt, Mom is smiling down on them. Love gave them the purpose, drive, and strength to do what they were told couldn’t be done.