The Vasquez family, owners of Someburros. (Provided photo)
5 Phoenix food families that are redefining Arizona culinary scene
Families are all complicated no matter the situation you are in with them, but what if you weren’t just related... What if you worked together too? These five Metro Phoenix food families sat down to talk about the restaurant business and what it is like to do it alongside your family members.
The Vasquez Family — Someburros
This commonly known fast food restaurant has been a labor of love for decades. Owner Tim Vasquez says, “Our history goes all the way back to 1972 when my Nana and Tata, Poncho and Isabel Vasquez, opened Poncho’s Mexican Food.” The restaurant used his grandmother’s homemade recipes.
Tim Vasquez explains about a decade later his parents found themselves busy with himself and his two sisters and wished there was a place they could get the great food at Poncho’s on the go. That’s when Someburros was born.
Since then, the restaurant has grown to have 13 locations in the Valley and one in Flagstaff.
Tim Vasquez is very proud of the successes the restaurant has achieved so far. “It starts with a passion for what you’re doing,” he says. “The other thing to be successful is treating our team members, our Someburros Familia like family because they are family.”
Moving forward, Someburros has plans to open new restaurants throughout the state. Tim Vasquez says, “We are growing and we’re trying to spread the love throughout the state.”
He explains that the family decided they would never open a new restaurant unless the food was as good or better than it has ever been, and they feel good about that right now.
Still serving up his Nana’s recipes, he says, “I feel so proud every time I put a plate down on a table … honoring her legacy is what motivates me every day.”
The Maggiore Family — The Maggiore Group
What more can anyone say but like father, like son... Chef Joey Maggiore began cooking in the kitchen with his father “cutting tomatoes all day long for the marinara” when he was just 10 years old. That sent him down a path to open his first restaurant by 20 years old and eventually have the empire of restaurants he holds today alongside the rest of his family.
Maggiore and his wife run the business and their three children work with them. His son is learning to cook and the two girls are learning the operational side of things.
He explains when working with family, “patience is key. Not everyone has the same vision as you but their visions are great.”
But at the end of the day he says, “if you’re going to spend 10 – 12 hours a day with someone at work, why not your family?”
Growing up, he idolized his father and learned many lessons along the way Maggiore says, “He always taught us that the guest was not just there to spend money. They were spending time with us.”
He explains he is amazed at the legacy of friendships his father left behind.
The Maggiore Group includes Hash Kitchen, The Sicilian Butcher, The Sicilian Baker, The Mexicano and continues to expand.
“My dreams are to keep this legacy that my dad started and to make it stronger,” Maggiore says.
The Garfio Family — Frutilandia & Taqueria Factory
Let’s talk about the true American Dream, but not just for the Garfio family, also for all the families they help.
Gamaliel Garfio and his wife created Frutilandia — authentic Latin treats made with real fruit, shave ice and ice cream — in the early 2000s. They had moved to Arizona from California where this type of restaurant existed in abundance and felt like Arizona needed a place like this.
“At that time there were really no other places, no other restaurants of this type, offering this type of menu,” Gamaliel Garfio says.
Now, Gamaliel and his wife own Frutilandia as a concept and help others open their own franchises. They have also recently launched a new Mexican concept called Taqueria Factory.
All three of Gamaliel’s children are involved in the business as well. One of his sons is a chef and owns a Taqueria Factory in South Chandler, the other is the manager of the first Taqueria Factory and his daughter owns a Frutilandia and is preparing to open a hybrid of both concepts.
Briana Garfio is learning every day as she grows as a business owner. In terms of success she says, “The most important thing is consistency in all aspects of the business and really just making everyday special.”
Both Briana and Gamaliel Garfio love the opportunities that their family has been able to provide to others.
Gamaliel Garfio says, “We’re looking forward to making the American Dream a reality for a lot of families that have been wanting to have an opportunity by opening their own restaurant.”
The Gebran Family — U.S. Egg
They say that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and for the Gebran family, it really is true.
The family migrated from Lebanon to Iowa in the late ‘70s, and later moved to Arizona where they opened their first U.S. Egg restaurant in Tempe in 1991. They have since expanded to have six locations serving up breakfast and lunch across the Valley.
Chief Operating Officer George Gebran explains the restaurants are currently run by himself, his three brothers and his father, and they have a great dynamic working together.
“We’re blessed that we get to work together in the daytime, but in the evening, we can go out for dinner,” he says.
Gebran explains it can be hard to keep the balance between work and family, but he personally tries to remember how important it is to take care of those around you including yourself. He says he has been on a bit of a health kick for a while now, and he and his brothers enjoy going to the gym together to stay social away from work as well.
Gebran says they run their operations slightly differently in that each of them have an office in one of the locations as opposed to having an offsite corporate office.
“We’re actually there,” he says. “We do our work at our own locations and we’re happy to do so. That’s what has kept our brand going by having that presence and having fun at the same time.”
In terms of success, he also says that you must be like “a peanut M&M.”
“You’ve got to be hard, otherwise you’re just not going to make it,” Gebran says. “But you also have to be sweet and know how to take care of everybody — your staff, your guests, your landlords — You’ve got to be able to work with people.”
Moving forward, Gebran says they have clear hopes for the future, “We are going to continue the family legacy and expand the brand.”
The Pezzano Family — SFIZIO Modern Italian Kitchen
Staying true to his Italian family roots is Chef Rocco Pezzano’s main goal at his restaurant whenever he serve’s up a plate.
“I’m very picky with food,” he says. “I import most of the things from Italy. We do everything from scratch.”
Rocco Pezzano opened his current restaurant SFIZIO Modern Italian Kitchen following Covid, but this was not his first restaurant.
He came to America in 1986, and says he had several restaurants after this time that he decided to leave in order to spend more time with his family.
It was only with the support of his family that he opened his current restaurant.
Although his wife and two children do not have jobs at the restaurant, they do regularly pop in to help out when they can. “We all kind of work and help each other there,” Pezzano says.
He explains that the whole family tends to be quite busy, but the restaurant has become something of “a meeting point.”
However, despite their busy schedules, he says, “We try to spend as much time as we can together. We have fun.”