A new family has taken on the legacy of Dahlia Café.
Pete Juarez purchased the business in November 2022. He hired his son, Taylor Juarez, to take on the role of general manager, and his daughter-in-law, Elideth Juarez, to work as the front-of-house manager.
Dahlia’s was originally opened in October 2007 by John and Debbie Johnston. Their son, Bryan, and his wife, Shelly, came on to help manage the restaurant as well, and together, the family owned and ran Dahlia’s for 15 years.
“They were ready to retire and move on to something else,” Taylor said. “I know the family has two really big horse ranches they want to focus on.”
Taylor said there won’t be any major changes to the style of service or the menu. The only changes the Juarez family is implementing are things they think the community will be excited about. The first is that they are going to open the doors to the restrurant seven days a week. Currently, Dahlia’s is closed on Sundays and Mondays.
The second change is that brunch will be served on Saturdays and Sundays.
“With Liberty Hill being a smaller town and on Sundays not having very many options for dining out, we thought this was something the community would like, especially with how popular the breakfast menu at Dahlia’s was in the past [before Covid],” Taylor said.
Taylor added that he’s working with the Johnstons to incorporate a brunch menu that will include some of the most popular dishes Dahlia’s offered when it used to serve breakfast.
“The biggest draw at Dahlia’s is the food, so if we change something in a recipe or change the ingredients, people will notice,” he said. “They are so familiar with our food, that they know what it should taste like and look like. Not only that, we are also very confident in the recipes the Johnstons left us. We know how good the food is.”
Taylor said the changes will happen as soon as he can onboard and train enough staff to increase the restaurant’s hours.
“We are optimistic that it’ll happen the beginning of this year, and have been ramping up our hiring, but we aren’t ready to give out an exact date,” he added.
Currently, Dahlia’s employs about 45 people, but Taylor is hoping to hire about 15 more cooks, hosts, servers and prep kitchen employees.
Pete has been in the restaurant business for over 40 years—since he was just 16 years old. He spent a lot of his early years working in his parents’ Round Rock restaurant, Juarez Bakery and Restaurant, which is still open today. Taylor spent a lot of time there as a child as well and brings about 15 years of restaurant experience.
“We’ve just always been in the restaurant business, and we’ve always liked eating at Dahlia’s since we moved to Liberty Hill 10 years ago,” Pete said. “It’s got great food, a great atmosphere, and it’s really a community icon and staple here in Liberty Hill. When it came up for sale, I was very interested.”
Pete added that the Johnston family wasn’t going to sell Dahlia’s to just anyone—the family expressed that they wanted to sell to someone who knew the restaurant industry well.
“I felt we had a good chance when they told me that,” Pete said. “I knew I’d let my son run it, and we were excited about it because it’s right here in the town where we live.”
In addition to Dahlia’s, Pete also owns one restaurant in South Austin, one in Corpus Christi and two in Albuquerque.
“I’ve overseen 30 different restaurants in my time, including Furr’s Cafeteria and Golden Corral,” Pete said. “Those are restaurants that have a lot of volume, so we know what we are doing. Taylor worked for me at Golden Corral, so this isn’t the first time he’s worked for me either.”
Looking to the future, the Juarez family hopes they’ll be able to expand Dahlia’s and provide more seating for customers as the community continues to grow. But for now, their main goal is to continue providing the same service the Johnston family did when they owned Dahlia’s.
“The most important thing is we are going to continue the standard of excellence the Johnstons left for us,” Taylor said. “They deserve a lot of credit. They created this legacy, and we are just upholding the legacy. We are going to continue to serve the community just like the Johnston family did.”