Long before Nashville was on the map as a foodie destination, the Ayala brothers knew the city held the promise of progress for their new restaurant idea, Las Palmas. They arrived in Music City in 1985 with a mere $3,000 borrowed from friends and family, and a wealth of knowledge from their experiences as cooks and managers in Atlanta’s restaurant scene. They used their savings to purchase an old Mazda to drive all around the southeast, scouting various cities. By 1989, they had settled into the old 1960s building that housed the Silver Dollar Saloon on Charlotte Pike in Nashville. The building was set for demolition, but with a variety of talents in the family, the Ayalas were able to completely renovate and remodel the restaurant. This is where the Charlotte Pike Las Palmas is still located today!
Las Palmas opened for business on August 20, 1990, passing out flyers, free tacos and sodas to get people in the door. It took 8 long months, but the good news about delicious Mexican fare finally traveled through town. Las Palmas began to find it’s regular and loyal patrons, many who still frequent the restaurant today! The family loves to reminisce about the stories from the old days, such as the little league team that would come in after their baseball games. These players, who now coach their children’s teams, continue the same post-game traditions today. There’s also all the married couples who had their first dates at Las Palmas back in the day. As well as, a particular group of young friends who would gather every Tuesday night to eat, drink and do tricks, such as juggling bowling pins. These friends still gather at Las Palmas, but now they bring their grandchildren!
By 2001, the family had opened 6 more locations in the Nashville-area, including Dolly Parton’s favorite in Hermitage and a Cool Springs restaurant where the late George Jones would frequently stop in for dinner.
While their business was quickly expanding, brother Jose Luis knew that controlling the quality of their ingredients was of utmost importance. In February of 2005, they opened a warehouse where they could provide better food for a lower cost from their family-owned farm. The operation included a tamale kitchen and also became a well-known supplier for many restaurants around town.
The family now owns 10 Las Palmas locations in Nashville and is excited to be moving the original Charlotte Pike restaurant to a new building down the street in 2016. The customers are just as ecstatic about the new location, which will host more space, better parking, new bar and large patio for everyone to enjoy! Every decision the Las Palmas family makes is for their customers as a way to give back for their unwavering support over the past 16 years.
“The Charlotte Pike location gave us everything,” says owner, Jose Luis. “The support of our customers is strong. We’re not still here because we are lucky, we are here because of them. Our customers mean everything to us.”