It’s a common understanding that you’re not really “from” Colorado until you’ve eaten 3 Margaritas. If you want to be particularly authentic about it, then the real requirement is to eat at three DIFFERENT places 3 Margaritas. The story behind this iconic restaurant is inspiring – an immigrant success story of restlessness, family and, of course, plenty of awesome margaritas.
We’ll take a look!
Although 3 Margaritas has been a Denver staple for over 20 years, many people don’t know that it got its start in Seattle, of all. Brothers Nicolas and Manuel Morales poured all of their life savings into opening Las Margaritas, a six-table restaurant just outside of downtown Seattle. The first six months were incredibly difficult for the brothers, as the restaurant struggled to pay its rent. After a rave review from a Seattle-based food critic, however, their fortunes quickly changed.
After word got out about the authentic cuisine and friendly service at Las Margaritas, the restaurant became so crowded that it consistently sold out food within an hour of opening during peak days. Before long, the brothers had 15 total restaurants open in Washington state. Wanting a change of pace, Manuel sold these restaurants to former employees before moving to Colorado and opening the first of many 3 Margaritas locations.
Fast forward to today, and 3 Margaritas has over 13 locations, spread throughout the state and surrounding areas. The vast area covered by these restaurants has been one of the main reasons they have become so ubiquitous with restaurants in Colorado; it doesn’t matter if you’re in Denver, Thornton, or even Sidney, Nebraska — the restaurant’s signature margaritas are always around the corner. Although the menu has evolved over the years, the friendly service and authentic Mexican cuisine at the heart of the restaurant has remained the same.
One of the biggest secrets to the success of 3 Margaritas is that it remains a family business, even though the restaurant and the family have grown a lot in the years since. In fact, each location is owned by a member of the Morales family or a longtime employee of the chain! Keeping the business in the family has been a huge benefit to 3 Margaritas over the years, as it has allowed them to constantly focus on prioritizing their menu and their employees, instead of chasing profits or responding to soulless parent companies. Both of these were key at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, as restaurants were not only able to successfully transition to take-out, but they also held numerous fundraisers and community campaigns that made it a lifeline. valuable rescue for their neighbours. .
The story doesn’t end there either for Nicolas Morales, who has since returned to his hometown of Cuautla, located in Jalisco, Mexico. Since his return to the country, Nicolas has been elected mayor with an ambitious program to fight against the lack of education and well-paying jobs, two factors that led him to emigrate to the United States when he had no only 17 years old.
While the management and menus of specific 3 Margaritas locations may vary slightly, the chain is just as committed to its core vision as it was when it first opened. You don’t need us to tell you that – you can just walk into one of their restaurants and see for yourself!
What’s your favorite spot for the 3 Margaritas? Sound off in the comments!