El Chico to transform into ‘All-American’ grill, bar

El Chico Mexican Food Café has been open for business in Huntsville for 29 years. However, on April 13 the restaurant will close its doors permanently leaving its legacy behind.

Eliza Long and Marilou Velasco are sisters and the owners of both El Chico and Toasted and will bring a new dining experience to Huntsville on April 16. Boosters Grill and Bar, located at 1833 Interstate 45, will open its doors as a restaurant serving “All-American food, with a twist.”

The restaurant will be open for business Mondays thru Wednesday from 11 a.m. to midnight, Thursday thru Saturday from 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. and on Sunday from 11 a.m. to midnight.

A few of the cuisine options offered will be burgers, wings, steak, flat-bread pizza and pasta, as well as Asian and Mexican food. Boosters will offer brunch on Saturdays and Sundays with options of a hearty American breakfast. Healthy substitutions will also be offered.

“Our motivation for changing the restaurant was to offer something different to Huntsville that they have never had before,” Velasco said. “We took a look around at all of the restaurants in Huntsville and noticed a lot of the same types of restaurants and knew that if we wanted to do well financially as a business we would need to change.”

Velasco said offering a variety of food to Boosters’ patrons is a main goal of the new restaurant.

“I would like customers that come to my restaurant to enjoy it and know that they are not eating the same food over and over and that is why it is All-American food with a twist,” Velasco said. “There can be something new to eat each time a person visits us.”

Velasco and Long moved to Huntsville three years ago with their families.

Velasco is an Elementary teacher by profession and Long is a Chemical Engineer. Both graduated from the National University in Manila, Philippines. Velasco and Long got their business experience from working for McDonalds; Long was a Director of Operations for 22 years and Velasco was a supervisor for 13 years.

The sisters took over as the owners of El Chico in October 2012 and opened Toasted, a restaurant that serves breakfast all-day long as well as lunch and dinner, in November 2014. It is their hope that Boosters Grill and Bar will be successful and known by the public as a friendly and safe atmosphere for families and college students alike

“We want Boosters Grill and Bar to be a place where families can come and watch sports on television while still having family time,” Long said. “We will have tablets on the tables where kids can pay a small fee and play as many games as they want. We would love to see kids excited come to the restaurant and have a fun environment to play in while their parents relax, as well as a place where college students can come to hang out and do homework with the free Wi-Fi that we will provide. We will also give a 10 percent discount to all college students who show us a student ID.”

During the day Boosters Grill and Bar will cater more towards families but at night after 9 p.m. they will limit their menu to bar food and it will be a place directed towards adults.

After a few weeks of being open Velasco and Long would like to begin hosting karaoke nights and live music performances.

They would also like to implement a burger challenge where a customer can try their luck at eating a 24 oz. burger in one sitting. If they can finish it the burger is free, otherwise they have to pay for it.

Along with giving their customers a pleasant dining experience Velasco and Long want their restaurant to be a fun place for their employees to work. Currently they are looking to hire cooks, servers, bartenders and management.

“We want Boosters Grill and bar to be a unique and fun place where we offer what no other restaurant in Huntsville is offering,” Long said. “The restaurant business is not easy, but it is what we know and enjoy best. Having your own business is a source of joy and there is a great deal of gratification that comes from seeing the fruit of your labor.”

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