VOL. 130 | NO. 161 | Wednesday, August 19, 2015
Las Tortugas Deli Mexicana Adding Second Location, Plans for More
By Andy Meek
Las Tortugas Deli Mexicana founder Jose "Pepe" Magallanes says customers have been asking for years that the restaurant he opened in 2003 add more locations to complement its existing Germantown-area presence.
He's wanted to pursue an expansion for a while now and is at last preparing to do so. Deli Mexicana, Magallanes said, is a few months away from expanding to East Memphis, in a spot he's picked out at the intersection of Poplar Avenue and Massey Road, near International Paper Co.’s headquarters.
He has signed a long-term lease for 1,600 square feet at 6300 Poplar Ave., adjacent to Paragon Bank, in the Paragon Place shopping center. The restaurant – which Magallanes said will operate there under a new name, El Pedregal – represented itself in the transaction, while John Walker of Walker Commercial Properties and Danny Buring of The Shopping Center Group represented the landlord.
The new location, he said, will have a menu comprised of the original location’s most popular items. And before it opens, he says he might have yet another location for an additional restaurant to announce. El Pedregal’s opening is about four to five months away.
Magallanes is 71 but says the idea of retirement is anathema to him. He's still cooking because he loves to and he's opening a second location because he wants to.
Building out a new restaurant, Magallanes said, "is like building a house, to be honest with you – but there are more things to be done than with a house, that's for sure.
"I'm really excited because I've been looking to do this for many years."
He'd put thoughts of expansion on ice about seven years ago when the economy was still in a slump.
"Now, I'm getting too old, and the economy is getting better," he said. "And I'm tired of waiting!
"I'm also aggressively looking for more (potential locations). The idea is to start catching up with the time I've already lost."
The new name for the second restaurant is a reference to the part of Mexico City where Magallanes hails from. He also didn't want a new "Las Tortugas Deli Mexicana" to necessarily compete in customers' minds, he said, with the Germantown-area location, at 1215 S. Germantown Road, owned by his son Jonathan Magallanes.
The elder Magallanes said the new lease was signed a few weeks ago. It's in space formerly used by Paragon Bank.
Magallanes minces no words when describing his passion for food and for his restaurant.
"It's a matter of personal pride to me," he said of the business, the purpose of which, he continued, is partly to change peoples' ideas about Mexico through quality food and good service.
The restaurant takes more than a year to train its workers, he said: "Here, it's not about selling food. It's about amazing you.
"I feel fortunate to still be animated and excited. I tried retirement. And I didn't like it!"