This beloved Houston Tex-Mex restaurant announces it has closed its doors

HOUSTON – El Real Tex-Mex Cafe has closed, effective immediately. 

A sign was posted on the front door of the building that said the locks had been changed due to "unpaid bills."

On Monday morning, owner, operator and chef Bryan Caswell announced the indefinite closure at El Real after, he said, he was unable to reach an agreement intended to revive and reserve the dining establishment.

"I am heartbroken and grieving over this loss, not only of the restaurant but of the people who have been so loyal and supportive of me and El Real over the years," Caswell said.

The restaurant owner expressed his gratitude to the staff, investors, vendors and customers of El Real.

Caswell said he now plans to focus on his original restaurant, Reef & 3rd Bar, which opened in 2007.

"El Real has been a rewarding endeavor, but I have decided the best recourse is to focus on Reef, my family, and my health," Caswell said. "... I am grateful for those who have been loyal from beginning to end. This is simply the right thing to do at this time." 

Employees say they have not been paid 

Employees told KPRC they have not been paid, some of them for more than a month. 

"As long as I've been here, I haven't been paid on time," one former El Real server said. "They keep giving us the runaround."

On Friday, several employees said that on payday, Caswell told employees that checks would arrive on Monday.

Early Monday morning, employees said they got a text about the closure, which included an email address where they could send their address to receive their checks "this week."

"The email didn't work," one employee said. 

The employee said the email returned an error message on her phone that said the provided email address was not valid. A second employee got the same error.

"What am I supposed to tell the landlord?" another former server told KPRC. 

One employee, Rosa, said she showed up expecting to work on Monday. Her first day was Sunday, she said, and she hadn't received a text message. 

"They didn't say anything," Rosa said. 

KPRC contacted Caswell through his spokeswoman for additional comments and has not received a response so far.

In the press release, Caswell said he will focus his efforts on his original restaurant, Reef, which recently reopened after being flooded during Hurricane Harvey. 

About the Authors: