Chuy's "Tex-Mex" Restaurant was the place I called home (off and on) for close to two years. I met my husband while working there and I met some remarkable life-long friends along the way. Chuy's shaped me, changed me and really pissed me off from time to time. It was truly the best time that I never want to have again! I have absolutely no regrets from my time working there, but I also have NO intention of ever going back.
Here are eleven truths, myths and/or little nuggets of wisdom that I have obtained after living and loving Chuy's through the years.
1. No, this isn't real Mexican food
I am fully aware that Chuy's is far from authentic Mexican cuisine. You see, in Texas, we appreciate both the real version of Mexican food and the Texas-altered version. Texans are cool like that. We like to put our own spin on things while still respecting the original creators. Hence the name, tex-mex.
2. Speaking of tex-mex, Chuy's is first of it's kind
In 1982, Mike Young and John Zapp (the founders) opened up a quaint and very eccentric little spot in Austin, TX calling it tex-mex and creating a ripple effect that eventually spread across the entire state. Chuy's Restaurants can now be found in nineteen states across the nation and they are opening new stores in new unexpected locations every year!
3. Chuy's doesn't advertise!
If you have ever set foot in a Chuy's at any point, I'm sure you have noticed the wide array of unique t-shirt options they have supplied for the staff (and any other patrons who are willing to sacrifice $19.99) . Among being mindlessly clever, these t-shirts serve as their only form of advertising. No fancy commercials, no newspaper ads, just t-shirts and word of mouth! Are you impressed yet? Well you probably should be!
4. It's called creamy jalapeño!
Creamy J, the white sauce, the crack sauce, spicy ranch, cilantro ranch and my personal favorite, the green sauce (IT'S NOT EVEN GREEN) are all interchangeable to you people. But the name is creamy freaking jalapeño. So don't look at me crazy when I don't bring you the correct "green sauce" that isn't green.
5. No, I can't give you the recipe
The exact recipe is unbeknownst to the public and I imagine most Chuy's professionals would like to keep it that way (as it keeps the customers coming back for more). Yes, you can try to convince me (and the rest of your table) that you pinned the EXACT Creamy J recipe on Pinterest. But I can almost guarantee that you didn't. It might be an almost replica, but I am about 99% sure that it is not exact. I appreciate your enthusiasm though.
6. Most managers are avidly against the mortal sin called the "pre-creamy", but a lot of servers do it anyway
To make a long story short, at one point in time, (so I've been told) servers were instructed to carry creamy out to their table alongside the chips and fresca (the red sauce that you probably hate) upon greeting a table. I was not employed at such a time, but one can only imagine how glorious it must have been. Legend has it that (at this point in time) Chuy's was trying to promote/introduce the mysterious special sauce to their patrons. Well, inevitably, the sauce grew to such an immense popularity that they realized it would be more cost-efficient to only serve creamy upon request. You can imagine the uproar. People are living in a world where the crack sauce is limitless, and then one day, they enter their favorite restaurant only to find the server greeting their table WITH NO WHITE SAUCE. What a time to be alive, man! So they now incessantly preach to the staff to avoid the "pre-creamy" at all costs, and to wait until a guest requests it (because Chuy's and just about every other business out there is trying to save money). You can't really blame them there. Regardless, please attempt to keep your composure the next time that you are greeted without creamy and/or have to ask for it. I know, it is clearly a life-altering situation, but the servers are literally just following their manager's instruction. They really don't deserve the attitude.
7. Some servers don't give a shit about the "pre-creamy" rule
To elaborate on this serious topic of discussion, I will say that
some most of the more seasoned Chuy's vets ignore the "pre-creamy" rule entirely. Which explains why sometimes your server will bring the creamy automatically, and other servers prefer to wait for you to request it. As it is with any restaurant, as time progresses, you slowly care less and less about pleasing management, and more and more about appeasing your financial necessities. (ie. I care more about getting a good tip than saving my manager money, so I will "pre-creamy" and not think twice about it). I was one of these savages, and I have zero shame. I like money, and I like happy tables. I'm sorry?
8. We cater to all walks of life
Chuy's has incredible food anyway you look at it. About 99 percent of the food is made fresh daily! No joke! But what makes it even more incredible is the amount of options and diet plans we can cater to. Chuy's has innumerable gluten free options, as well as dairy-free and vegetarian. In fact, all of the rice and bean options at Chuy's are vegetarian (meaning that they are free from all the nasty, super unhealthy swine products). Yay Chuy's!
9. SLOW YOUR ROLL ON THE CHIPS!
The absolute worst thing about working for Mexican restaurants is the continual never-ending war of trying to maintain a full chip basket. As if trying to keep your bowl of creamy filled up to the brim wasn't hard enough, we are constantly plagued with the fear of your chips running out, as well. Some (smarter) servers will bring multiple baskets of chips to a table, if they have the extra time to prepare them in the beginning of your dining experience. But even then, with some tables, it never feels like enough. I don't know if you're chewing your chips properly or just eating them like a rabid animal... but either way, maybe you should take it down a notch and not yell at your server for appeasing your unhealthy eating habits. Seriously people, chew your damn food!
10. Sometimes we run out of things
Whether it be one of our famous "daily specials" like roasted pork enchiladas or shrimp taquitos, or something more severe like plates or bowls, Chuy's Restaurants definitely have shortages at times. Regarding the food, our specials are made fresh daily (generally in the morning to ensure that everything is done efficiently before the lunch or dinner rush). So when we run out of a specific item, we are literally out (until more of said product is made in the shit storm that is a Chuy's kitchen). We cannot just run to our freezer and throw it in the microwave. Chuy's doesn't work like that, and you should be thankful for this! And regarding the plates, bowls, ramekins, silverware and whatever else, that might be a problem specific to our store. We definitely had some troubling shortages in my time working there, but I am hopeful that maybe things have changed since my employment.
11. Be kind always
Last and finally, I want to harp on the importance of kindness and patience when you dine at Chuy's (or any restaurant for that matter). In most cases, your server only controls a small part of your dining experience. Running out of silverware, slow ticket times, long waits to be seated, being seated in the "wrong" booth, noisy table neighbors, drinks made incorrectly and SO much more are completely out of their control. Probably a server's biggest responsibility is maintaining a kind, upbeat and unreasonably positive demeanor when the world around them and everything in it is going to complete horse shit. Seriously, they're doing the best that they can with the hand that they've been dealt. And chances are, they are doing everything in their power to ensure that you have a great experience! So like, stop being an ass-hat and think long and hard about whatever insult you want to throw their way, because 99 percent of the time, they probably don't deserve it. Also, don't forget to tip! Compliments are great, but cash is better.