Tortilla Soup celebrates 1 year in Brookhaven

Published 12:00 pm Saturday, September 17, 2022

Adan Diaz can’t see himself anywhere else but in Brookhaven right now.

Tortilla Soup in Brookhaven celebrates its one-year anniversary this weekend, and co-owner Diaz is thrilled he brought the business to the Home Seekers Paradise.

Along with his business partner Saul Mendoza, Diaz was drawn to Brookhaven 15 years ago. He loved the location and the beauty of the downtown area. There was just one problem. Tortilla Soup’s brand of margaritas is vital to the business, and liquor permits were not available for restaurants at that time.

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“The town is amazingly beautiful, but we didn’t know Mississippi had dry towns,” Diaz said.

As he and his team returned to their restaurant in Hammond, they stopped in McComb for lunch. There they connected with a restaurant owner who convinced them to go ahead and open a location in McComb.

“So we chose to go in McComb 14 years ago,” Diaz said. “It’s been a good investment, but we wanted to expand to Brookhaven eventually. A few years ago, when liquor license permits became available, we started looking again. We knew it should be in downtown Brookhaven.”

With some scouting help from a food salesman, Diaz found out in early 2019 that a downtown Brookhaven location would soon be available. Georgia Blue Bakery was in the building at the time, and closed a year later.

“We saw the potential of the building immediately,” Diaz said. “The owner was John Lynch, a brilliant individual. He allowed us to do a partnership to acquire the building.”

Remodeling the location to suit their business was one of the biggest investments his company has undertaken, Diaz said, but it has been worth the cost and work.

“From the moment we opened the door, we had a great response from customers,” he said. “And we saw this would be the blueprint for future locations. Brookhaven is so attractive for business entrepreneurs.”

Local businessman Seth Allen has become a close friend of Diaz, and agrees wholeheartedly with his assessment.

“With any downtown area where it’s still a vibrant one like we have in Brookhaven — one of the best in Mississippi — it’s a very attractive area to come in and do business, especially in a restaurant setting. You can sit down, eat, look out and see buildings that haven’t changed much since the turn of the 20th century,” Allen said. “That’s what I hear most people say, that we have a great downtown area and they wish their own was like it. People have come because of our downtown as a big draw. It’s not a ‘commercial’ look — it’s just the mystique of downtown.”

Allen said he and other lifelong residents of the city have lots of personal memories that make the downtown experience special.

“For people who have lived in Brookhaven all their lives, like me, they remember what used to be here. They see the outside of the building like it used to be and have that nostalgia,” he said.

Diaz and his family moved to Louisiana from Florida in 2006. Though it presented lots of challenges, he found the Tex-Mex industry to be booming in Louisiana. But the expansion north to Mississippi has been his best business decision, he believes.

“For 14 years now we have flourished. We’re up to nine restaurants now in Louisiana and Mississippi, and we’re working on two more projects in Mississippi,” he said. “Mississippi became to us the ‘flourishment’ of our company. I encourage new investors to come and especially to Brookhaven, because this town has the structure, the value of property, the caring of people who help Brookhaven grow higher and higher each year. I just want to say ‘Thank you’ to the beautiful town of Brookhaven for allowing us to be here, the City, the Chamber of Commerce, and so many more. And when you keep hearing of more businesses coming, it lets you know of the healthy economy of the town.”

Tortilla Soup is known for its Tex-Mex cuisine, margaritas and full bar. It opens daily at 11 a.m., closing a 9 p.m. Sundays, 9:30 p.m. Monday-Thursday, and 10:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday.

“I’m extremely grateful for the time and opportunity in Brookhaven,” Diaz said. “I can’t see myself anywhere else right now.”