What Inspired George Lopez To Get Into The Restaurant Business - Exclusive

In an exclusive interview with Mashed, comedian-actor-entrepreneur George Lopez talked about his new venture, delivery-only taqueria George Lopez Tacos. We were fascinated by how Lopez pivoted to the restaurant business, an unusual move for such a long-established entertainment professional. In 2017, Lopez opened Chingon Kitchen, a casual but stylish Mexican restaurant, and two years later, he got into the artisan beer business with his George Lopez Brewing Co. (via PR Newswire). 

Although his sitcom, "George Lopez," had been a big success, he had a challenging time with his talk show "Lopez Tonight." As Lopez tells it, the show was fun to do and performing well, but everyday executives told him he could do better. "I think they were afraid of what the show could be. One day not as many women were watching it. The next day too many women were watching. Then no Latinas were watching." In other words, TV executives were enthusiastic, as long as he was their version of George Lopez. "They never just hired me and leave me alone, man. They hired me, and [then] they change you."

Knowing this, Lopez's veering off into the restaurant business seems understandable, but that doesn't mean he's left "the biz" behind. During our interview, he shared that NBC had just bought a new sitcom about a father-daughter relationship, co-starring his real-life daughter, Mayan. Lopez also revealed that he began thinking about the restaurant business because of the stories he told about his grandmother in his standup act.

George Lopez was inspired by his grandmother's home cooking

According to The Washington Post, Lopez is known for transforming his sometimes difficult childhood into comedy. Abandoned by his parents, the star was raised by his maternal grandmother and step-grandfather in the Mission Hills neighborhood of Los Angeles (via Britannica). In his standup, Lopez explains, "I was always talking about the way my grandmother cooked." For example, the aroma of homemade tortillas, beans cooked in bacon grease, and freshly made salsas. Lopez's grandmother cooked everyday, making sure a meal was on the table when his grandfather came home from work. "I didn't realize or even understand ... how I didn't appreciate it more when somebody could have made something." 

His beloved grandmother died 11 years ago, and Lopez still thinks about her everyday. "But in sitting here, talking to you ... I can see myself in the kitchen in a chair waiting for her to bring me one taco at a time. I didn't realize how special those moments were." As Lopez was developing the menu for George Lopez Tacos, "That's all the stuff that I was trying to bring to the concept of George Lopez Tacos." But Lopez was also aware that his grandmother's cooking was somewhat sleep-inducing because of the ingredients she used. "I think [Mexican food] can be healthy now as well."

Melding his childhood memories with high-quality ingredients for George Lopez Tacos is important to Lopez, but he's also hopeful that his taqueria will bring people together again. "I think after a rough year, and us starting to get back to some normalcy, that food is going to be what's going to set us on the right track."

From the churro bites to la chingona, check out George Lopez Tacos for a complete menu and ordering information.