Fresh, Flavorful, and Familiar

The Serrano Family's Latest Venture Brings Their Popular Family Recipes to Tempe

Article by Michelle Glicksman

Photography by Courtesy of Pronto by Serrano’s

Originally published in Tempe City Lifestyle

The Serrano family has a long history in the Valley. They opened their first business—a dry goods business called the Serrano Brothers Popular Store—in Chandler in 1919. That eventually evolved into multiple locations of Serrano’s Department Stores. In 1979, Ernie and Eva Serrano made the decision to open a restaurant in Downtown Chandler using family recipes passed down over the generations. Since that time, the restaurant business has evolved and been passed down to their adult children—Ric Serrano, Ernie Serrano, Theresa Serrano-Keel, Lorraine Serrano, Billy Serrano, Lisa Chavez, and Carolyn Serrano—who now own and operate four Serrano’s locations in the East Valley as well as Pronto, the family’s newest venture, which is a fast-casual concept in Tempe.

Can you describe the concept behind Pronto by Serrano’s?

Pronto offers build-your-own combos featuring burritos, tacos, nachos, salads, bowls, and more, as well as some featured dishes, including quesabirria tacos, fish tacos, and Stephanie’s stacked enchiladas. Favorite Serrano staples like machaca, shredded chicken, asada steak, al pastor chicken, and tomatillo pork are offered as protein options, along with a variety of customizable toppings and sauces. Customers can also add the famous Serrano’s bean dip, chips, and salsa to their orders if desired.

Why fast-casual vs. dine-in?

Patrons can still dine in; however, they order at the counter. The goal is to provide the same Sonoran-style cuisine Serrano’s fans have come to love at a lower price point and with quicker turnaround time than the full-service restaurants that rely on servers.

How would you describe the menu?

Pronto’s menu focuses on “fresh, flavorful, and familiar.” With our customizable menu options, you can eat here dozens of times and never have the same thing twice.

What are some of your most popular menu items?

Our Taco Tuesday special featuring two soft tacos Pronto’s way for $5 is popular, and our fish tacos and Stephanie’s stacked enchiladas have been popular. Our customers indicated they were missing crispy tacos, so we recently introduced new rolled crispy tacos to our menu.

Do you have options for any dietary needs, such as vegan or gluten-free?

We have many gluten-free options, including all of our proteins, marinades, and sauces. Our rice and bean options are also naturally gluten-free, and many of our sides and toppings are, as well. We can easily swap ingredients to make most dishes gluten-free if they are not already. Pronto also offers hearty vegan/vegetarian protein options like fajita grilled peppers, onions, and chiles, vegan, and dairy-free cauliflower rice, and slow-cooked black and pinto beans.

What sets this restaurant apart from other restaurants in Tempe?

We may be the only restaurant in Tempe to have a robot, named Catrina, aid our team! We use her as a food runner and kids especially seem to enjoy having her deliver their meals. When you dine in at Pronto, you are helping to support a small, family-owned and -operated business that has been a part of the East Valley fabric since 1919. Additionally, the quality of our food—based on original recipes from our own family’s kitchen—is superior to what you get at other fast-casual concepts. 

You do a lot of fundraisers … can you share a few and why you choose to give back in general?

As part of our faith, we were raised to give back to those in need whenever possible. Our family and restaurants have been feeding the homeless via St. Vincent de Paul every month for the past two decades. We also partner every October with Check for a Lump to raise funds and awareness for breast cancer research because our sister, Stephanie, passed away from breast cancer shortly after we celebrated our 100th anniversary as a family-owned business in 2019.

Additionally, we always support the Arizona Law Enforcement Outreach and Support (LEOS) annual Shop with a Cop event in Chandler every Christmas, personally serving breakfast burritos to the kids and law enforcement members in attendance.

"Any important family gathering or event revolved around a delicious meal and we took that to heart. We always wanted our restaurants to be a place where your important life events were celebrated with food around our dining tables." 

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