Restaurant is about hard work, dedication

Published 10:00 am Saturday, December 11, 2021

Tortilla soup combines chicken stock with a type of tomato salsa, crispy tortilla strips and your choice of chili spice, from pasilla to ancho to plain powdered chili sauce. A uniquely personalized meal, tortilla soup can be enhanced by the diner’s choice of cream, avocado, pork rinds or anything else to add to the tomatoes, onions, garlic and, of course, tortilla strips.

Confused as to the many ways to enjoy tortilla soup? Worry not: Brookhaven now has its very own Tortilla Soup restaurant, where your gastric desires are their pleasure to create.

Tortilla Soup opened on 112 S. Whitworth this fall. It’s owned by the Mendoza Diaz Enterprises partnership that includes Adan Diaz, a man with a generous dose of feeling and emotion. Standing at the front of his business, you can’t help but hear his lively expression as he speaks to his customers. With grand gestures, he describes everything with his hands and leaves no doubt that he feels deep respect for the people he serves. His musical voice extends thanks to each person – coming or going – for choosing his establishment.

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“It’s been a blessing for us,” he said enthusiastically of the Brookhaven eatery as he took a break. “I do believe that in this beautiful town, this investment was the best for our family.”

Diaz said that the group’s original 2006 plan to have a restaurant in Brookhaven faltered because there couldn’t get a liquor license, so they couldn’t follow the business plan that has worked so far in their Louisiana restaurants in Hammond, Denham Springs and Lake Charles.

“So, we were headed back to Louisiana [to further our business] when we met a very bright man who said that Brookhaven and this area is about to grow,” he said. “‘You guys need to invest over here.’ We wanted to, but we couldn’t. So we got to talking to more people when we were introduced to the developers over in McComb. We opened [a Tortilla Soup branch] in 2008 and it’s been a wonderful investment. But we never gave up the idea of being in beautiful Brookhaven.”

Diaz said he and his partners kept discussing a restaurant in Brookhaven for many years with one thing they all agreed upon: If [the location] wasn’t downtown, they weren’t going to invest. “We have always admired this town,” he said. “It’s clean, impeccable, thriving. It’s aiming for the direction of success, so we wanted to be part of that.

“We met someone in 2019 who lead us to talk to Mr. John Lynch — a brilliant man, brilliant mind, brilliant ideas. We explained to him that we had had an idea: not of a “Mexican restaurant,” but a TexMex restaurant. It’s a different environment. Our family owned recipes are used — our tortilla soup recipe is our great grandma’s recipe. My seasonings are TexMex flavors from south central Mexico and my own company makes spices from Louisiana to use in the restaurants.”

Diaz said they started the work in October 2020 and though the pandemic was a challenge that slowed them down, in the end, the doors finally opened. “At the end of the day, we are blessed,” Diaz said. “We are very grateful [for] this dream come true. We are going to look for many years to serve you.”

The partnership is solid on what it wants to do, where it wants to do it and why it all matters. “This country gives everyone opportunity — as long as you work for it,” Diaz said with passion. “It’s all about hard work and dedication. This country gives the opportunity to everyone, regardless of race, gender, age. You need to break the comfort zone, the victimization mentality [some people possess] and get up and live the American Dream. Because if you don’t, there are other people who are going to take it [and run].”

Diaz smiles and adds: “I think this pandemic reshaped business. In this just the past pandemic, I’ve witnessed men become millionaires. People are going back to the basics — hospitality, customer service and pride.”

Diaz believes in that mentality so much that he plans to keep that model of behavior alive and well at all Tortilla Soup locations.

Tortilla Soup is open Monday-Saturday from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. and starting Sunday, Dec. 11, the restaurant will be open every Sunday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Call 601-990-2172 for more information or to order takeout.