La Casita Restaurants

When Behrooz Anvary emigrated to the United States from Iran in 1970, he came to live with family in Fargo, ND. He started working as a dishwasher in a local Mexican restaurant while going to college, learning the business along the way. A few years later, the owners were going to close the restaurant. Behrooz and a few other employees, family members, and roommates approached the owners and asked if they could buy it. That began a career of owning and operating Mexican restaurants in the Upper Midwest for Behrooz, who is the co-owner of the popular La Casita restaurants around the Twin Cities and St. Cloud.

Behrooz’s sons Shawn and Jason now co-own the restaurants with him, running them as a family business with son Chad managing the group’s real estate holdings.

La Casita restaurants have been a fixture in the Twin Cities since the late 1980s with various locations opening over the years. Today, there are La Casita restaurants in Waite Park, Coon Rapids, Columbia Heights and Roseville and they employ around 125 people.

Shawn Anvary credits the success and longevity of the restaurants to a few key factors.

First, they have been able to adapt to market conditions at each location. When the Roseville location opened in 2003, it took a while for it be successful and find an audience. They were patient, knowing that their other locations were doing well. Over time, the Roseville location found a steady audience and it became successful as competing restaurants in the area closed their doors. Other La Casita locations started off red hot when they opened and required a different operational plan when they cooled off.

Second, Shawn says his father’s experience in the restaurant business informs a lot of the decisions they make. Shawn recalls when they took over the Roseville location from another restaurant, Behrooz was able to spell out exactly how the restaurant should look, how the dining area should feel and other important details when everyone else just saw a closed restaurant that needed to be remodeled.

Third, Shawn credits the restaurant staff for their success. Many of their employees have been working with them for ten years or more! As Shawn notes “They are one of the most important factors if not THE most important factors in our success.”

Shawn also credits their relationship with North American Banking Company and Senior VP/Business Banking Brad Benesh. They had been working with other banks but ownership changes, economic downturns and other market forces had them looking for a new bank that would be willing to fund a restaurant. When Chad met Brad and introduced him to Behrooz, they knew they had found the right bank and banker.

Working with Brad, they have been able to grow their business and plan for the future. “It’s been a good relationship,” says Shawn. “When I’ve had to contact Brad, he’s always available and responds quickly.”

Shawn and the rest of his family are eager to build on the hard work and dedication of their father. They’re planning updates to their menu to account for changing tastes in Mexican food while keeping some of the favorites that have made them successful. They’re also looking forward to many years of continued success working with North American Banking Company.

“My dad is a loyal guy, says Shawn. “If he feels he’s being taken care of, he’s not going to go anywhere else.”

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