In September 2003, Bill and Janalyn Holt, inspired by an entrepreneurial spirit, opened Pepperbellys.
The Tex-Mex restaurant, with a 1960s automobile theme, is patterned after the original Pepperbellys -- opened in Richfield back in 1995 by Bill Holt's brother, Jim Holt.
Bill Holt says he worked in the food business when he was younger and decided opening his own restaurant was a new challenge that he "just wanted to try in life." Holt and his father, Herb Holt, did extensive renovation work to retrofit the vintage building, originally constructed in 1946 to be a grocery store. The decor includes an antique gas pump gumball machine and other period paraphernalia.
Holt ran the restaurant himself until 2005, when he hired Tina Estoque to take over as the manager. "We have a great staff, it's a wonderful mix," Holt said.
Jim Holt and his wife, Christa, created the recipes for the selection of entrees. The Chile Verde Burrito with Sauce ($6.39) and Chile Relleno ($4.79) are top sellers.
Some popular menu items include the Cream Cheese and Chicken Chimi ($9.99) and the Strawberry Chicken Salad ($11.69), the latter a bed of romaine lettuce topped with bacon, tortilla strips, sugared almonds, grilled chicken, fresh strawberries and poppy seed dressing.
"We always do huge portions," Holt said. The Sweet Pork Buick Burrito ($8.99) is filled with sweet pork, fried, covered in green sauce and served with a side of Spanish rice and black beans.
The sauces and salsa are made fresh each day, and customers are served a complimentary bucket of warm chips with salsa when they are seated.
Favorite starters include the Macho Nachos ($9.69), chips stacked high with olives, jalapenos, sour cream, guacamole, onions, tomatoes and choice of meat; and the Humongous Cheese Fries ($7.99), served with ranch dip.
Seafood lovers can order a Grilled Fish Taco ($8.99), and for those who prefer a time-tested American dish, the Hub Cap Cheeseburger ($7.59) fills the bill with a 1/4-pound beef patty on a toasted bun with two thick slices of melted cheese.
For dessert, Holt recommends the Fried Ice Cream ($5.99), vanilla bean ice cream in a secret recipe coating, deep fried, covered in raspberry, strawberry, chocolate and caramel sauce, and topped with whipped cream.