HOUSTON – If you know his name, you probably know his food. Arnaldo Richards, Owner & Executive Chef of Pico’s, said his legacy isn’t just his food.
Richards and his wife are also passionate about giving back to the community.
“I started in the kitchen, probably when I was 14 years old and I really loved it,” Richards said. Being inside his restaurant, Pico’s in Upper Kirby is where Richards feels most at home.
He opened his first restaurant shortly after graduating from the University of Houston in 1981, at a time when authentic Mexican cuisine in Houston was practically non-existent.
“It was a challenge. It was a big challenge. People just didn’t want to try new foods. To them it was new, to me, it was common,” Richards said.
The taste for traditional Mexican cuisine didn’t catch on as quickly as he’d hoped. As he and his wife found out when they first opened Pico’s at its original location on Bellaire Blvd.
“My wife, at one point, back when we started Pico’s, she forced me to have Tex-Mex dishes because that was the only way we were going to survive,” Richards said.
Quitting wasn’t in his vocabulary. Born and raised in Monterrey, Mexico, Richards comes from three generations of restauranteurs and it was there that he began his culinary career.
“My mother was a great cook and so was my aunt Modesta, and I learned from them,” Richards said.
Today, those signature recipes taught to him all those years ago are still at the heart and soul of his long-standing mission to share his love of authentic Mexican cuisine with all of Houston.
“Going back to my heritage, I am so very proud of it and I want people to experience what I know,” Richards said.
Richards and his family now give back to the community, supporting neighbors in and outside the Houston food scene. They sponsor charitable groups like Dress For Success and Houston’s Art Car Parade.
“This is the way to do it, with hospitality and great food. We have been able to be successful because of that reason,” Richards said.