Up next in our spotlight series is Guillermo Lopez and Guillermo Lopez, Jr., owners of Los Reyes Bar & Grill. Los Reyes is a Golden Hill landmark and the flagship location for Lopez’s successful restaurant group. For decades, Los Reyes has been a leader and crucial part of the revitalization of 25th Street. As the torch passes from father to son, the commitment to reinvestment burns just as bright.
“We want all of San Diego to know just how amazing Golden Hill is.”
Guillermo Lopez, founder of Los Reyes, cultivated his passion for preparing and serving food while working for Cotija’s Mexican Restaurant. Lopez said the opportunity was a crash-course in operating a fast-casual restaurant. He quickly mastered the trade and was thriving. But Lopez knew he could add a twist to the model and offer a unique experience. So, it was in 1993 that Lopez chose Golden Hill to launch the king of Mexican restaurants, “Los Reyes”.
“Growing up, I watched my dad work 12-hour days on repeat,” said Lopez, Jr. about his father’s work ethic. “Nothing is handed to you in this world, and the recipe for success starts with good old fashioned hard work.”
The hard work paid off for Lopez. Los Reyes has expanded to three San Diego locations. Lopez said of his achievements, “Love and believe in whatever you’re doing.”
Success in the restaurant industry starts with the food. Lopez crafts the Los Reyes menu around his customers. He gets to know them; learns what specialty dishes they crave. Loyal fans rave about the King Burrito, for example. It is the Los Reyes take on a surf and turf burrito featuring shrimp, carne asada, and your choice of fries or seasoned potatoes. More recently, Lopez introduced a new Pozole recipe exclusively on Saturdays and Sundays, but customers quickly demanded the soup be served every day.
The latest culinary innovation from Los Reyes is the new weekend brunch menu. Featuring a nice blend of Mexican and American classics, Golden Hill finally has a proper brunch spot. Feel free to indulge with Churro Waffles. These perfectly crispy waffles are topped with caramelized bananas, blueberries, and whipped cream. Or try the El Patron Omelet stuffed with chorizo, veggies, beans, and rice. And what’s brunch without a cocktail? Los Reyes offers mimosa flights in four flavors, a popular Bloody Mary with bacon, and a Horchata Borracha with Tito’s vodka, caramel liqueur, and house-made horchata.
When Lopez, Jr. joined the family business, he brought his knowledge of emerging restaurant trends. New menu items were developed and plans to radically enhance the dining experience were laid. Lopez, Jr. envisioned taking Los Reyes from fast-casual to bone fide neighborhood hangout. Los Reyes expanded its footprint starting in 2017 to create a larger dining room, covered outdoor area, and sidewalk cafe.
The expansion of the 2496 Broadway site by Los Reyes is a significant part of the increased vitality of Golden Hill. The 25th Street Revitalization Project introduced wider sidewalks and traffic calming with a goal of making it safer for pedestrians. Understanding the opportunity, Lopez made complementary investments to the new streetscape. As a result, the northwest corner of 25th and Broadway is buzzing with customers, commuters, and the casual passerby.
“Contributing to the evolution of this beautiful part of town is something I thoroughly enjoy,” Lopez replied when I asked him about his motivation to invest. “I’ve seen the progress made here, and we do our part to shape and define this wonderful neighborhood.”
I asked father and son what they hoped to see in Golden Hill moving forward. “We hope that more people realize how special this part of town is. We want to see our community thrive and continue its upward trajectory. There are incredible businesses and people here, and we want all of San Diego to know just how amazing Golden Hill is.”
Los Reyes Bar & Grill is located at 2496 Broadway. They are open Monday-Sunday from 7am-10pm. You can reach them at (619) 231-0716, by visiting losreyesfoods.com, or on social media @losreyesgh.