While the faces of retailers and restaurateurs in the shopping center have changed over the years, Amigo’s owners Paul and Iris Liu have held steady, serving a combination of Mexican and southern comfort food to locals.
Paul Liu, whose background working in hotels and restaurants prepared him for owning and operating Amigo’s, said the restaurant was opened almost unintentionally. He and his wife had moved to the Austin area from McAllen to manage apartment properties, but found operating restaurants much more manageable.
“We went to a few business seminars,” Liu said. “Ultimately, we decided [the] restaurant business wasn't that bad.”
To be close to family in the area, they opened the family-oriented taco and barbecue restaurant down the street from their niece’s elementary school.
Amigo’s has survived a chaotic economy, Liu said, through the 2008 downturn and COVID-19 restrictions in 2020-21.
“As we thought we were succeeding, here comes economic downturn, so we had to struggle through that,” Liu said. “As we thought we were coming back, then it happens again.”
However, as development in Pflugerville moves eastward, so does some of his customer base.
“I would call us the old side of town,” Liu said. “The development is a lot less visible and the neighborhood is getting older. But other than that, I think a lot of people also got displaced because of the rising value of the homes around here.”
The restaurant primarily serves employees of nearby industrial parks and those working on the city’s project to widen Grand Avenue Parkway. Liu said he uses daily rotating specials as a means of trying new menu items with his customers, and has been working in more of the Mexican flavor with recent additions. He also said he employs methods of Chinese cooking and drawing on his roots as a chef, such as with the restaurant's potatoes.
“We serve one called a spicy potato,” Liu said. “You don't see that very often in some of the other Mexican restaurants. We use potatoes and stir fry with onions, jalapeño and tomatoes. We also try to use white pepper instead of black pepper.”
The restaurant recently changed its hours of operation due to increasing costs and a cancer diagnosis in the family, Liu said. In the future, he said Amigo’s will stay family owned and operated, with his niece Nicolette Segovia possibly taking over.
“She's young, she's ambitious and she liked the idea of raising her family in this environment, because she was raised in it,” Liu said. “She's very comfortable with it.”
Segovia, Liu said, is currently working to help strengthen the restaurant online and bring in customers from different areas.
“We have to keep up with the contemporary way of doing business,” Liu said. “We're trying to do more ecommerce and to have more of a social media presence. There are different things that we have to contend with, where before it was basically word of mouth.”
Amigo's BBQ Grill
1100 Grand Avenue Parkway, Ste. 108, Pflugerville
Facebook: Amigo's BBQ Grill
Hours: Mon.-Sat. 6 a.m.-3 p.m., closed Sun.