SAN BENITO — In the intensely competitive Valley restaurant market, there aren’t many avenues to pursue to set a business apart when so many are serving up the same Tex-Mex cuisine.

“You know, rice and beans, they sell them everywhere,” says Martin Morin, owner of three Blanquita’s Restaurants here and in Harlingen.

“But great service? That’s hard to come by, so we really focus on service, too.”

Morin and his staff of 75 to 80 employees can now count their obsession as a success.

The restaurants have been awarded the honor of 2019 Family Owned Business of the Year in the Lower Rio Grande Valley by the U.S. Small Business Administration in Harlingen.

Blanquita’s, with two restaurants in Harlingen and the one here in San Benito, has been operating for 24 years.

“The Harlingen and San Benito communities have been really great to us,” Morin says. “Good food, good service, that makes us, you know. There are a lot of good restaurants in town. Service and food, that’s what we actually focus on a lot.”

Morin says the best way to keep a restaurant thriving is to look inward, not out.

“The first thing as a business is we try to focus on our restaurants and nobody else’s,” he said. “That’s what keeps us more focused — don’t worry about the competitors, just do the things that you are told, pay attention, be nice to people and serve great food, and customers will come back.”

Blanquita’s serves all the Tex-Mex staples along with burgers, but has a few curves to throw customers with dishes such as Taco Me Green, a salad inside a tortilla shell with beef or chicken, and a burger called La Suegra Enfogonada, topped with grilled onions, hot red salsa and avocado.

“Our best seller would be the pequena plate,” Morin says. “We have a pequena plate with a little bit of fajitas, enchiladas and a chalupa, your delicious rice and beans. That’s one of the best ones.”

Morin insists it be noted the success of Blanquita’s was built on the strong foundation set 24 years ago by his family, an attitude in keeping with the honor of 2019 Family Owned Business of the Year.

“My sister and brother, who started the business, Blanca Delia Dominguez and Manuel Morin,” he says. “And my bother, Guillermo Morin, and Hortencia Rodriquez and San Juanita Garcia, they’re the ones who started it all.”

Morin says he has no plans at the present to add to the three Blanquita’s locations, but he cautions against ever saying never.

“Not at the moment,” he says. “But we have a lot of nephews and sons and daughters, so we might keep on going. Maybe later on we’ll decide to open another restaurant. We are going to keep the tradition going.”

Blanquita’s Restaurant locati

Blanquita’s Restaurant locations

Harlingen — 1302 W. Harrison, 2728 E. Harrison

San Benito — 190 N. Williams Road