Folks looking for Tex-Mex cuisine can get their fix of hot peppers and tantalizing south-of-the-border spices at Elsa’s 41 Tex-Mex Sports Grill.
This upscale, yet affordable neighborhood restaurant is located in the heart of downtown Lutz at US 41 and Sunset Boulevard.
Tucked into a retail center behind McDonald’s, Elsa’s caters to business people for lunch, families for dinners and fun-seeking adults socializing with neighbors in the evening.
Elsa’s is owned and operated by the Hemmert family, a multigenerational restaurant family that has owned restaurants in Ohio for more than 30 years. Its Lutz store is the family’s only Florida location and is managed by Justin Hemmert, son of company founder Bill Hemmert.
Justin took over as general manager of Elsa’s in Lutz last summer. He grew up in the family business and worked in the kitchen through high school and college. After graduating, he spent 10 years working as a CPA, with five of those years for a company located in Clearwater. Justin returned to the family business in 2009.
“Justin’s financial expertise and understanding of business operations has been invaluable in his management of our Lutz store,” said Bill Hemmert.
“We want local residents to know that Elsa’s has a very strong capital base,” he continued. “We can weather the normal up-and-downs of the restaurant business, and now with Justin’s financial background, our Lutz store is stronger than ever.”
“We’re here to stay,” Justin adds.
One of the first changes Justin made after coming to Lutz was to add daily specials to its menu.
“We added specials because everyone loves value,” said Justin. “We’re delighted to offer customers even more value with our discounted pricing, on top of our large portions and made-from-scratch foods.”
Elsa’s most popular special is called “2 for $20,” which includes an appetizer, two entrées and a dessert every day of the week, all day long.
“The chains — in particular Chili’s and Applebee’s — do not include a dessert in their 2 for $20-type offerings,” said Justin. “We believe dessert is half the fun when going out to eat, and we’re proud that our special comes with dessert at no additional charge!”
Other food specials introduced in the past six months are 50-cent wings on
Sundays, $1 tacos on Mondays and Kids Eat Free on Tuesdays.
Drink specials include two for one well drinks and $1.75 pint domestic drafts, all day every day. Elsa’s also offers $5 margar- itas on Mondays, half-price bottled Mexican beer on Tuesdays, and great Sangrias, from recipes that originated from clubs and restaurants on the Las Vegas Strip.
Elsa’s bar is best known for its trademark Bad Juan margarita, by far its most popular mixed drink.
“In 1979, we spent three years perfecting the Bad Juan recipe,” said Bill Hemmert, who describes it as a clear, lime-based drink made from tequila, lime juice and triple sec. Complementing the Bad Juan is the Bad Juanita, a strawberry margarita popular with the ladies and young adults. Beware, the strawberry has the same alcohol content as the original.
“Our Bad Juans are very smooth for a margarita,” said Bill. “People like them because they are delicious and also for their strong alcohol content, which is double the amount of liquor found in a bottle of wine.”
Customer demand is to the point that the Bad Juan is now available in liter bot- tles at package liquor stores. Locally, Bad Juan liters can be bought at Liquors 41 (US 41 and Sunset Avenue, next to Ace Hardware), Jan’s Wine & Boos (Dale Mabry Highway and W. Lutz Lake Fern Road, next to Publix) and Murphy’s Liquor Store (SR 54 in the Village Lakes Shopping Center, next to Ross).
In addition to package stores, you can find Bad Juan margaritas at Tampa Bay Lightning games and other events at the Tampa Bay Times Forum, where the Hemmert family has an exclusive contract for its famous brand.
There’s no doubt that plenty of Bad Juans and Bad Juanitas will be sold this weekend when Elsa’s celebrates Cinco de Mayo, May 3, 4 and 5.
Elsa’s menu has something for every- one. In addition to its many Tex Mex dishes, Elsa’s also offers typical American fare such as burgers, pizza and wings. “The wings are second to none, and they are the biggest and best wings you can buy,” said Bill Hemmert. Its most popular menu item is the mini Super Burrito. The Super Burrito is too large for most people, a 10-inch flour tortilla filled with refried beans and choice of ground beef, shredded beef, chicken, chorizo or pork carnitas topped with a mild sauce, lettuce, pico de gallo and aged cheddar cheese.
This story was written by the advertising department.