A passion for music led Gabriela Bucio to become one of Austin’s most dynamic and influential restaurateurs.
By Gabriela Bucio, Photo by Mesh Bhakta
Growing up in Michoacán, Mexico, and later in South Texas near Laredo, all I can remember ever wanting was my own cassette or CD player. One that had an equalizer so I could play with the bass settings. (Although I’m proud to say I’ve since moved on to vinyl, CDJs and controllers.)
My deep passion for music drove me to eventually move up north to Austin, the “Live Music Capital of The World,” after finishing school. I could finally attend all the concerts and music festivals the city had to offer. To me, Austin was every music junkie’s dream city. You could attend an electronic show at Kingdom one night and an indie-rock show at Mohawk the next.
But as I soon found out, a big appetite for live music can become very expensive. So I decided to bartend at night to afford all the shows, while still paying my bills on time. These experiences taught me that it takes a lot of self-discipline to juggle multiple jobs while following your dreams. Ultimately, bartending at night alongside a regular 9-to-5 shaped me to become the entrepreneur I am today.
Professionally, my goal has always been to work for myself.
My passion for owning a restaurant and bar developed during those long nights spent bartending. For instance, I realized while working at a local Tex-Mex restaurant that Austin needed more options for tasty chamoy-filled spicy drinks as well as micheladas.
When my brother Arturo and I first opened Gabriela’s in 2018, we created the theme based on the Michoacán recipes we ate as children. As well as drinks with natural fruits we picked from our grandmother’s backyard in Mexico like tamarindo, mangos and grapefruits.
For those first few months after opening, it was a struggle. I was the bartender, server and hostess. I worked on everything from the design and decor to the music playlist. Failure simply was not an option. I had invested all my hard-earned savings from working multiple jobs my entire life.
I’m grateful to say Gabriela’s has become a popular hotspot for young Latinos to come unwind and celebrate. I loved that they came in and felt free to express their true selves. But I realized our growing community was missing something else: an authentic Mexican-owned nightclub and music venue. I wanted a small bar at first. I’m proud to say we created one of the biggest downtown venues after opening Mala Vida in 2019.
Today, Arturo and I are known as two of the first, and currently the only, downtown music venue owners to promote regional Mexican music.
The all-too-often underrepresented Latinx community in Austin used to be forced to drive to the outskirts of town to find similar entertainment. Helping to bring about such meaningful change in the very city that brought me some of my most cherished memories has become a point of immense pride for my team and me.
As our business continued to grow, I recognized that Austin needed more spaces that catered to women. Which is the real reason I created Taquero Mucho. The restaurant continues to be a safe place where women can come together. Feel empowered and celebrated for simply being themselves. From the menu to the music to the unapologetically pink design, Taquero Mucho keeps the modern Austin woman in mind.
When I first ventured out on my own, I was just doing what I loved. But I had been blissfully unaware of the impact I was having not only on the local Latinx community, but on aspiring women all across Austin.
Chase Down Your Dreams
A lot of that has to do with the fact that my restaurant group, Gabriela’s Group, grew so incredibly fast since launching three years ago. I know this is an absolute blessing and due entirely to the support of our loyal fans. During the COVID-19 pandemic, I helped to reopen Revival, my favorite coffee shop on the east side just a few blocks from Gabriela’s. This spring, we expanded Gabriela’s (which I pretty much consider my firstborn child) to South Austin. We partnered with Cielo, one of Austin’s hottest Latin night clubs on Sixth Street, to open Mala Santa, an even larger music venue in far East Austin near the airport. We are now expanding north this summer with Taquero Mucho’s second location near the Domain, and Seareinas. A brand-new concept that will include Sinaloan-style seafood and live music.
As we in the restaurant industry—and more broadly the community—continue to face uncertain times, saying I feel lucky to call Austin my home is an understatement. This place is where my dreams were first created and later became a reality. It’s embraced both my family and my business. I take pride in the fact that my team is helping to contribute to this city’s growing diversity.
Above all else, I love being a woman in these male-dominated industries while working to provide my fellow female entrepreneurs a bit of inspiration as they chase down their own dreams.