Jorge’s owner plans new con­cepts

Jorge’s

Austin American-Statesman - - BUSINESS - B Con­tact Shonda No­vak at 445-3856.

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.”

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