Pancho's Mexican Buffet
Pancho's Mexican Buffet is a chain of Tex-Mex restaurants (14 as of 2014) in the United States. The bulk of the restaurants are in Texas; a few restaurants are or were previously located in Arizona, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Louisiana and Mississippi. Pancho's main offering is an all you care to eat buffet, though unlike many other such buffets additional food is brought by waitstaff rather than self-served, except for in the chain's "Super Buffet" locations. Pancho's also offers takeout service.
As of February 2012, Panchos corporate has silently shut down operations. All corporate owned restaurants are closed, phone lines disconnected and website removed. The reasons behind it are unknown. Non corporate owned locations remain open. As of September 2014, 14 franchise locations operate in Texas, Oklahoma and Louisiana.
The first Pancho's restaurant opened in El Paso, Texas in 1958. The restaurant was founded by Jesse Arrambide, Jr (who also owns Los Bandidos De Carlos & Mickey's restaurant)., who learned how to make Mexican dishes from his mother. His experience in cooking in large quantities while serving on an American naval troopship during World War II would contribute towards his concept of how to operate a buffet-style restaurant. After several years of operating his restaurant as a success, Arrambide turned his energy towards creating a Pancho's restaurant chain. The company eventually relocated its corporate office from El Paso to Fort Worth, Texas in 1966. In 2007, Pancho's moved east again, this time to Dallas, Texas Since 1979, the corporation has changed hands between several owners and partners.
Pancho's food items include tacos, flautas, enchiladas, tamales, rice, refried beans, Guacamole and many other traditional Tex-Mex items including Fajitas and healthy options such as Taco Salads as well as Hamburgers. Chicken Nuggets Corn Dog and French Fries are served in their kid's menu as well as a "kid size" buffet. Sopaipillas have been served for dessert since the restaurant's opening; in the 1990s most locations also began offering a dessert bar with soft serve ice cream and other more traditional American fare.
Pancho's is most popular for having its buffet customers "raise the flag" to request more food; each table has a small tricolored flag with the three colors of the flag of Mexico. The flag, however, is sometimes missing the Mexican coat of arms and thus more closely resembles the flag of Italy but sporting the image of Pancho the mascot of Pancho's Mexican Buffet. The food is reasonably priced, and the dining area is often decorated with a courtyard motif with two sayings in Spanish on the walls "Mi Casa es su casa (My House is Your House) and "Panza llena Corazon Contento" (Full Belly, Happy Heart). Several locations also sold a limited line of products that customers could purchase and make their own sopaipillas, tacos, etc. at home, as well as a small selection of piñatas that could be used for parties or other decorating reasons as well as Sombreros de Charro and Handcrafted Mexican Artisan goods such as small pottery, toys and figurines .
Damage caused by Hurricane Katrina forced the Metairie, Louisiana location in New Orleans to close. On March 30, 2009, Panchos Mexican Buffet returned to Metairie, with over 600 invitation-only patrons in attendance at a private opening the previous Friday. As of January 2012, the Metairie and Baton Rouge Super Buffet locations have been permanently closed.
- Pancho's Buffet History
- Pancho's Mexican Buffet, Inc. - Company History
- New Orleans fans second-line to resurrected Pancho's Mexican Buffet
- Pancho's Mexican Buffet Events