Lyle Lippincott and Bette Lippincott discuss the future as the second-generation leaders of Guero’s Taco Bar.
By Chelsea Pribble, Photos courtesy of Richard Casteel and Resplendent Hospitality
Rob and Cathy Lippincott’s love of Mexican street food set the foundation for one of Austin’s most iconic restaurants. Guero’s Taco Bar, a South Congress Avenue favorite, has been in operation for 32 years, relocating in the mid-1990s from East Oltorf Street to its current home. With the old Central Feed and Seed store lettering preserved on the face of the building and a second-generation takeover in the making, Guero’s strives to balance tradition with modern improvements.
When Bette Lippincott and Lyle Lippincott, now in the midst of adulthood, talk about their favorite Guero’s dishes, it is clear they have inherited a passion for the restaurant.
“My all-time favorite dish has to be the tacos al pastor. They are an authentic Mexican street food that I just can’t seem to get enough of,” Bette Lippincott says.
Lyle Lippincott suggests adding picadillo to the popular Guero’s queso “to make it a little meaty.”
In 2013, Lyle Lippincott and Bette Lippincott began their full-time takeover of the business. The pair worked at the host stand throughout high school and during summer breaks in college.
After graduating college, Lyle Lippincott worked in a few different restaurants in Chicago, falling even more in love with the restaurant industry, which eventually led her back to Guero’s. Upon leaving school, Bette Lippincott also found herself back in the restaurant world.
“I went into the field that I knew best,” Bette Lippincott recalls. “I went in thinking it was going to be temporary until I figured out that this was what I really wanted to do.”
To the sisters, Guero’s is home. Both have fond memories from a childhood spent at Guero’s. They lightheartedly joke about the restaurant being their babysitter and having refried beans and rice as their first real foods.
“There was never a dull moment,” Lyle Lippincott recalls. “We make all of our corn tortillas by hand, and I used to love to sit by the tortilla ladies and watch them. It was a favorite pastime, especially when they taught me how to make them too.”
Bette Lippincott remembers eagerly requesting bedtime stories about the business.
“I always wanted to know what was happening in the restaurant,” she says. “I think I was always intrigued by what it was like to work with so many different personalities and all of the different types of people you come across in a business that is all about customer service.”
Although they say stepping into leadership roles from part-time positions was intimidating at first, they quickly gained their footing. As sisters and best friends, they complement one another well. While Lyle Lippincott is task-oriented, Bette Lippincott is often flooded with creative ideas.
“When we put our heads together, our different strengths create fun new project ideas,” Bette Lippincott says.
During the past five years, they have grown the catering business exponentially, modernized the brand, updated the hiring process and ultimately, worked to “curate an environment that breeds teamwork, independence and a little bit of fun.”
Both carry a positive attitude about what might be considered the hardships of the business and instead choose to view each new situation as a learning experience. Indeed, Lyle Lippincott’s favorite aspect of the business is being kept on her toes.
“I love that every day is different,” she says. “I walk into work and never really know what is going to happen. I may make a plan for the day, but by the time I get there, my plans are out the window and I just deal with the day-to-day [work]as it comes.”
Although they have no plans to open a second location, they may look into a new restaurant venture in the future. For now, the family is thankful to have been a part of the Austin culture for so long.
“I hope we can be a restaurant that people continue to love and enjoy for generations to come,” Lyle Lippincott says.
Both sisters also have sage advice for women in the food industry.
“Follow your heart and go with your gut,” Bette Lippincott says. “This is something that I think anyone that wants to be or is in this business feels in their bones. It takes a lot of hard work and a passion for interesting people and great food.”
As for Lyle Lippincott, her advice is simple.
“Just do it,” she says. “There might be people out there who tell you not to or that you can’t, but do it anyway.”