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Houston institution Molina's celebrates 75 years of legendary Tex-Mex

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Molina's Cantina celebrates 75 years of serving legendary Tex-Mex to Houstonians (KTRK)

Seventy-five years is a remarkable milestone for any business. In the restaurant industry, it's amazing, and so is the story of Molina's Cantina.

The Houston institution began in 1941 on Main Street.

"Back then, Houston was more like a cow town," said Raul Molina Jr, whose parents founded Molina's. "They did it because they were trying to feed us and keep a roof over our heads."

From humble beginnings, it now has 3 locations, some of which have changed over the years to follow the city's growth. However, what hasn't changed - the same Tex-Mex items that still draw in generations of customers. Molina's is also the oldest, continuously operating restaurant of its kind which is still owned and run by the same family.
WATCH: Molina's famous Chili Con Carne recipe

The three grandsons of the founders, Raul III, Roberto and Ricardo, now own the business. They bought it from their father, who bought it from his father, when his sons were children.

"I didn't intend to go into the business," said Roberto, who was taking a break from college. He never went back to the classroom, and neither did his brothers.

The family says the key to its success are food and service.

"The Tex-Mex items are still prepared from my grandparents recipes," said Ricardo. "They would recognize it instantly if they were still here."

Presidents have dined at Molina's, and others have ordered takeout. George H.W. Bush was a frequent customers at its Westheimer location. Bill Clinton had Molina's Tex Mex staples sent to a campaign event when he was in Houston. The restaurant also sent tamales, special delivery, to the White House.
WATCH: Molina's Cantina's famous grilled beef fajitas

Longtime customer, Lynne Skinner went to Molina's as a little girl. An adult now, she comes with her mother, because it's "comfort food" for her.

"I grew up in Houston and my family was from south Texas. The enchilada sauce tastes like what my grandmother used to make," said Skinner.

It's more than customer loyalty at Molina's. The restaurant is also known for its longtime employees, some of whom have been working there most of their lives. Margarita Neri is one of them, with 33 years and counting.

"I've always liked it here," said Neri. "The family is great to work for, and I met my husband here. He also worked for Molina's."

Molina's is celebrating 75 years of enchiladas, tamales, fajitas and more this month, by offering specials, with price roll backs at random locations and certain times. For information on where and when, check out Molina's on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. And be sure to wish them a, "Happy Anniversary!"

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