Family, Fun and Food

How Los Jefes Grill became a community staple in the heart of Metairie
Cheryl Gerber Oscar Chimal Los Jefes Grille 01

Photo by Cheryl Gerber

In 2016, Los Jefes Grill was born from humble beginnings with only a handful of employees and a strong desire to succeed. That it endures today as a thriving business is due to the creativity and resilience of founder Oscar Chimal, who credits his work ethic to his family.

“My motivation to become an entrepreneur stems from my family’s sacrifices to get me here,” says Chimal. “I was born and raised in Mexico and migrated to the US at the age of 11. My journey and obstacles that were overcome continue to motivate me each day as an entrepreneur.”

It’s this very background that has kept Los Jefes on course as the business grew, never compromising the recipes, techniques and standards Chimal learned growing up.

“Los Jefes has stayed true to our original authentic Mexican cuisine concept,” Chimal says. “We use fresh ingredients, keep our original homemade flavors and create a family-friendly environment.”

Since its opening, Los Jefes has grown to a staff of 50, hosts an annual Cinco De Mayo festival, a Taco Eating Contest and other events that have established the business as a go-to in Metairie. Like many businesses last year, Los Jefes had to pivot amid pandemic restrictions, offering take-out instead of its usual dine-in experiences. But Chimal saw this moment as an opportunity to give back, and by tapping into his natural creativity, he found ways to reach and engage with the community to keep business running smoothly.

“We take pride in the work we do in the community,” Chimal says. “These relationships are key in scaling and growing the business. During the pandemic, we gave away hundreds of free burritos to healthcare workers at major hospitals.”

Others noticed Chimal’s proactive approach to honoring frontline workers, and Los Jefes soon partnered with other brands and companies who wanted to sponsor his efforts. Building relationships has always been key for the restaurant’s success, such as Los Jefes’ enduring relationship with the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Louisiana. And by securing so many new and supportive partnerships, Los Jefes was able to host its most elaborate Cinco De Mayo event in May 2021. There, Chimal’s passion, resilience and ingenuity were on full display.

“This year was the restaurant’s biggest and most successful Cinco de Mayo event yet,” Chimal says. “We featured all-you-can-eat tacos, vendors, live bands, family activities and our headliner celebrity, DJ Mannie Fresh. We had giveaways and sponsors such as Diamonds Direct, Avion Tequila, Entergy, Geico, Fidelity Bank and more.”

Chimal isn’t just concerned with big picture events and initiatives, either. He is always ready to roll up his sleeves to support his staff, taking each new challenge in stride, delegating responsibilities and keeping top-tier quality as his main focus. From kitchen dynamics to marketing and branding, each of these alone can be a full-time job, but Chimal believes they’re all vital for success.

“I refuse to be complacent,” he says. “I am always building valuable relationships with vendors, customers and influencers.”

Chimal’s refusal to settle for ordinary results is what makes Los Jefes so consistently innovative and unique. In 2020, the restaurant received multiple Top Taco awards for many of its specialty recipes, including “Barbacoa Taco” and “Guava margarita.”

“Fresh ideas and creativity are very important in captivating our customers,” Chimal says. “Our creativity allows us to grow the brand each year!”

With this mindset, the future is bright for Los Jefes. In the Fall, patrons will be able to compete in their taco-eating contest, with the chance to win free tacos for a year. And Chimal has plans to make future Cinco De Mayo Fests even bigger to foster a more tight-knit and supportive community.

“My vision is to have all Fat City businesses participate to attract people from other cities,” Chimal says. “I believe Fat City is a very unique area that everyone should know about.”