Juan Alvarez


La Hacienda Restaurants

Hot Springs

Juan Alvarez

Juan Alvarez is living the American Dream.

Alvarez, now 31, moved with his large family from Mexico to San Diego around 1978 so the family could help friends manage a couple of Mexican restaurants in the city back in Cojeta, the family had owned and operated a restaurant for more than 10 years.

But Alvarez's sister came to settle in Arkansas, and he liked what he saw of the state on his occasional visits. Scanning around for a restaurant location, his sister found a place for lease in Hot Springs in 1988. From San Diego, Alvarez gave the plan the go-ahead.

"I told them to take the place and we'll come there to make food," he says.

The place where he would "make food" would become La Hacienda, one of the best-loved Mexican restaurant in the state, which now pulls in revenue of around $3,000 a day, or more than $3 million a year.

Things went so well in Hot Springs that Alvarez has personally taken charge of a new La Hacienda restaurant in Little Rock on Rebsamen Park Road, and he has plans for another location in North Little Rock.

Since Alvarez and his family moved to Arkansas (there are seven brothers and four sister in the family, along with mom, dad and brothers-in-law) and established a successful authentic Mexi-can restaurant, many Mexican families have been inspired to do the same in cities across Arkansas.

"Maybe they saw that we are doing well," he says. "When you do what you like and you do it with love, everything comes along.