We had the good fortune of connecting with Ric Serrano and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Ric, what do you attribute your success to?
“Faith. Family. Food.” These values have always been at the core of the Serrano family and we continue to be guided by our Catholic faith and commitment to family to this day. Over the years, our family has built a strong connection to our community based on these shared values. Serrano’s originally opened in September 1919 in Downtown Chandler with $10,000 worth of dry goods inventory and it was called The Serrano Brothers Popular Store. The “Serrano Brothers” were Albert and Luis Serrano. Albert was my grandfather and my father, Ernie, was his son. Over the past 101 years, our family has operated dry goods stores, several independent clothing department stores, Sonoran-style Mexican restaurants and a breakfast/lunch establishment called Brunchies.
The common thread with these enterprises was the Serrano name and brand recognition, particularly in Chandler, Ariz., but also throughout the entire East Valley. Our parents and grandparents worked diligently to build relationships in the community, and that has helped our restaurant business succeed for over four decades. We’re proud to be the oldest family owned business in Chandler and we have four other East Valley restaurant locations (five total). We serve Sonoran-style Mexican food inspired by our delicious family recipes, and we’re home to the original famous bean dip! We invite you to join us and check us out at serranosaz.com. We’re open for dine in and takeout experiences.
Let’s talk shop! Tell us more about your career and family. What can you share with our community?
As president and CEO of Chandler, Ariz.-based Serrano’s Mexican Restaurants, I oversee the operations of all five restaurant locations. I joined the family business in 1984 when my father asked me to open our second restaurant location in Tempe. Through years of hard work and dedication, I moved my way up to general manager of operations in the 1990s and in 2003, I was promoted to president and CEO.
My wife, Davonna, and I have been married for 28 years and we share a beautiful life with our two sons, daughter and extended family.
Who are your role models or mentors and how did they impact your career?
When working in the golf industry, Doug MacDonald, the head golf professional I worked for, taught me how to navigate through customer relations in a way that I have carried with me throughout my career. Similarly, my parents, the co-founders of our restaurant business, taught me about true dedication and the work ethic necessary for success.
What attracted you to your industry and what has surprised you the most?
The opportunity to experience growth in a multigenerational family business is what initially attracted me to the restaurant industry. What has most surprised me is the way that each opening of a restaurant feels like a child is born, essentially bringing on a new life that we are tasked with sustaining and nurturing to prosperity.
What is the best book you’ve read and how did that book impact you?
Early on in my career, I read Zig Ziglar’s “See You at the Top,” which helped me “see good in others” and maintain a positive attitude in all aspects of my life. The lessons from this book serve as a constant reminder to look beneath the surface of a situation and see the deeper meaning behind each decision I make.
What is a surprising fact about you?
For the past 45 years I have always had a constant in my life and that’s golf. Whether through business deals, personal desire or involvement in charitable work, my love for the greatest game ever played always shines through.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Our favorite spots to check out with friends and family alike include the ever-growing Downtown Chandler area. Aside from our authentic Sonoran Mexican restaurant, which opened in 1979, there are several other dining spots to choose from representing a variety of cuisines. There are beautiful murals and artwork, including the one we commissioned for our 100th anniversary located at the back of our restaurant near City Hall. From spending a day on the tree-lined fairway and links at San Marcos Golf Resort to checking out a family friendly comedy show at ImprovMania to ending the day with cigars at Puro Cigar Bar, there’s plenty to do in Downtown Chandler!
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
Although my parents, Ernie and Eva Serrano, who have both passed away would probably cringe at the idea of a “Shoutout,” my siblings and I owe them a debt of gratitude for being brave enough to launch a restaurant business later on in their lives and see it grow into a successful, family run operation.
Images provided by Serrano’s Mexican Restaurants