Jorge’s owner plans new concepts
emphasis on the organic ingredients she now uses.
In Jorgitos, Veloz will team with her current bar manager, Ernesto Calderon, and her stepson, Adam Swank. In the higher-end concept, she will partner with Luis Mendez, a favorite waiter among Jorge’s patrons.
Veloz eventually hopes to re-employ many of her 42 workers at the new locations. She plans to open the first Jorgitos early next year on Burnet Road — a corridor that has undergone a transformation in recent years as new stores, restaurants and housing options have emerged. By next May or June, she plans to open the first of the more upscale restaurants, with a goal of having several in different parts of town, tailoring each to the local neighborhoods.
Veloz said she has received offers through the years to sell the Hancock property, valued at $1.2 million by the Travis Central Appraisal District.
“The price kept going up and going up, and it got to the point where we couldn’t ignore it,” she said.
The restaurant is doing well, she noted, and is on track to close its highestgrossing year with an estimated $2 million in revenue, up 20 percent from 2011.
But she said it’s increasingly difficult to run a restaurant the size of Jorge’s.
“We are third-generation restaurateurs, training the fourth generation and trying to change the business model, so each one of our kids can run their own, but are not stuck to a concept,” Veloz said, other than keeping the high standards for the food her paternal grandparents emphasized.
Jorge’s is a successor to a chain of restaurants dating to the 1970s in Austin and founded by the Jorge Arredondo family. Veloz and her brother, Jorge Veloz, bought the Hancock location in 2002 from owners who had purchased it out of bankruptcy in 1992.
The Hancock location is the only Jorge’s in Austin. Veloz’s family members own other Jorge’s in Texas, including Dallas, Amarillo, Midland and Odessa.
Veloz’s father, Jorge Veloz Sr., created the famous Jorge’s margarita with a bartender from Mexico nearly 40 years ago.
Veloz said most of her employees have been with her since she opened Jorge’s Nov. 18, 2002.
“This was a very, very hard decision. It’s been kind of nostalgic and melancholy at the same time,” Veloz said. But her employees have told her they will follow her wherever she goes.
“I make home wherever I am,” Veloz said, “and Jorge’s is always going to be their home.”