Taste it, and you can’t put it down!
That’s what thousands of loyal customers across Texas and throughout the United States experience with Julio’s Chips!
This small company has humble beginnings – literally from Julio Garcia’s family kitchen in Del Rio, Texas. Today, the company produces 135,000 pounds of chips, 13,650 cases of salsa and 7,420 cases of Julio’s special seasoning each week and the state-of the art production facility runs 24 hours a day Monday through Friday. They make tortillas that are converted into chips, add the seasonings (a Tex-Mex mix of garlic, paprika, cumin and lime that is robust without being overdone), and bag the chips.
In November 2022, the Garcia family was recognized by the South Texas Business Partnership of San Antonio for sustaining Julio’s Chips with economic growth and stability. H-E-B’s program “Be the Change” also recognized the family’s legacy for their dedication and determination in their success and for being one of H-E-B’s valued suppliers. Along with their professional staff, Julio’s Chips president Miguel Garcia and chief executive officer Pete Garcia direct the company’s operations and maintain the dedication and work ethic of their parents and family.
Julio T. Garcia – the namesake of Julio’s Chips – was born in Crystal City and married the love of his life, Lilia. Making a home in Del Rio, they raised ten children. Julio worked at a variety of jobs before finding his calling as a chef. At the Branding Iron Steak House, the steaks seasoned with Garcia’s favorite herbs and spices were a hit. Garcia’s seasoned chips with salsa and guacamole were added to the menu as an appetizer and became a popular item. The Branding Iron eventually closed, and Julio went to work down the street at Cedar’s Steaks. He was there for five years until changes were made by new management and he became unemployed.
In the meantime, Julio’s wife Lilia worked as a cook for the local school district and operated a small catering business out of their home. For her catering customers, Lilia prepared tamales and enchiladas and provided corn tortilla chips with salsa as a value-added condiment. With time on his hands, Julio pitched in to help. He learned his wife’s recipe for salsa and with his commercial kitchen experience, devised a more efficient preparation process. One day a local bank hired the Garcias to cater a party. The next day, the Garcias were surprised to receive a second order from the bank for more chips and salsa.
Julio worked day and night to satisfy a rapidly growing base of customers who would knock on the door of the Garcia home to buy Julio’s corn chips. But with a large family and limited time, Julio needed a steady income and accepted a job working the graveyard shift at a convenience store.
There, Julio observed that the late-night partiers returning from Mexico seemed to prefer purchasing small trays of nachos made with typical round chips and processed cheese. Julio thought his chips and salsa would be a better product and presented his idea to the store manager. The manager agreed to buy chips and salsa from Julio. Son Miguel remembers, “My dad would come home at seven-thirty in the morning and start cooking chips. At five o’clock he took a nap and was out the door with six buckets of corn chips at 10:30 p.m., just in time to make the night shift at the store. On weekends, he’d take ten buckets of chips.”
As demand grew at the convenience store and from sales at the house, the family determined they needed more space for the corn chip cooking operations. With the help of friends and siblings, Miguel remodeled the garage into a makeshift commercial kitchen to accommodate corn chip production. When the remodeling was completed, Miguel thought the building needed some color. He painted the garage bright yellow with red and green trim and explained to Julio, “Dad, we’re going to be the yellow house.” Today, bright yellow, red and green are the company colors.
When necessary, Miguel and his dad bought more fryers to increase production volume. And when business increased to the point of needing more help, Julio’s son Jose quit his job to work at Julio’s Chips. In 1996, Jose moved to San Angelo and eventually opened a factory on Chadbourne Street and two separate burrito restaurants. By opening the stores in San Angelo, Jose doubled the market share of Julio’s Chips and was able to sell Wal-Mart on the idea of carrying Julio’s Chips in its Super Centers. He also pioneered the idea of creating restaurants around the brand.
By 2000, the family was still manually churning out corn chips and Miguel wanted to automate the process. But the bank wouldn’t talk to Miguel unless he could show them bona fide profit and loss statements, balance sheets, and a business plan. He needed to automate accounting. Miguel turned to Del Rio business consultant Delia Ramirez who engineered moving the entire accounting process to a computer network. Sandra Saucedo, Miguel’s niece, took over the day-to-day bookkeeping. With up-to-date financial statements in hand, Miguel was approved for a commercial loan and a new building was completed in 2002.
Julio’s Chips remains a family operation. Julio is retired now, but still visits the plant many afternoons. Miguel runs the Del Rio manufacturing operation. His niece Sandra Saucedo is the office manager; Miguel’s wife Angie fills in where help is needed. Miguel’s brother, Pete, is the operations manager overseeing the entire production process. Julio Jr. takes care of the distribution of Julio’s in San Antonio. Brother Jose still operates a second factory and restaurants in San Angelo as a franchisee. And Delia Ramirez still serves as a business consultant for the family business.
Julio’s Chips is located at 3900 Highway 90 East in Del Rio, Texas. The restaurant in front of the factory is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Drive through hours are 6 a.m. until 8 p.m.; dine-in hours are 7 a.m. until 8 p.m.