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ON THE MENU — La Suprema celebrates 50 years as a family business

NEDERLAND — Amelia Martinez and two of her friends started a homemade tortilla business out of their kitchen in 1969.

Today, that business is La Suprema Mexican Restaurant and is run by her granddaughter, Remi Bryan.

La Suprema, located at 3106 FM 365 in Nederland, is celebrating 50 years as a tried-and-true, third-generation family owned restaurant.

Current owner Bryan reflects fondly on the people and businesses that grew the Mexican restaurant to what it is today.

“My grandmother, Amelia Martinez, owned a draping company,” Bryan said. “She, and two of her friends, decided they could make homemade tortillas, too. So they got some ideas together, bought a tortilla machine and put it together. They branched out a little bit to do tamales, and then my parents bought it from my grandmother in 1970.”

La Suprema Mexican Restaurant is a family owned business. Left to right: Brandi Ernst, Remi Bryan, Ramona Martinez, Stacey Martinez, Traci Bogan. Bottom row, left to right: Cal Bryan and Jarrod Bogan. (Courtesy photo)

Bryan’s parents are Roy and Ramona Martinez.

Bryan said she can remember sitting around a kitchen table with her mom and grandma watching friends and family come in and out to enjoy the food.

“It’s been a journey,” she said, reflecting back. “People would come in and eat the tamales as they came off the conveyor belt when the tortillas weren’t ready. That was in1974.”

Slowly, the 10-table room transformed into a 130-capacity Mexican-Cajun restaurant — the first of its kind.

“My mother, although she is not Mexican, developed almost all the recipes,” Bryan said. “So we have a fusion of foods. We have crab empanadas. We have street tacos, fish tacos, verde enchiladas, homemade tamales and more.”

Amelia Martinez, left, and son Roy Martinez, right.

Bryan’s mom was Cajun; her dad, Mexican. Together they created a menu full of flavor featuring stuffed jalapenos, fresh-made tortillas, homemade tamales and a customer-favorite, the traditional Chile relleno.

Chile relleno is a stuffed pepper filled with meat, covered in rice and drenched in a combination of ranchero sauce and queso.

When Bryan bought the store from her parents in 2005, she added a special Lent menu and a mixture of new foods, but in her 15 years at the helm, she still chalks up the store’s longtime success to community activism, fresh food and a family atmosphere.

“My grandmother was really active in the community and in the church,” she said. “My grandmother had six brothers who all grew up in Port Arthur. My grandfather retired from Texaco, so we have a lot of roots and family in the area.

“We also make all of our food. A lot of places don’t do that anymore, because it’s not as convenient. We have great help and consistent people who work for us. They treat it like it’s part of their life. I’ve had staff work for me for 20 years. So we know our customers and they know us. We are a little family and we treat our customers like family. That’s what’s going to get us through.”

La Suprema will celebrate their 50 years with a grand re-opening celebration, which will include a surprise remodel and the addition of a full bar. Date and time are pending.

At this time, curbside and delivery service are available Monday-Thursday 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Friday and Saturday until 9 p.m.

Bryan said as the restaurant deals with the effects of the ongoing pandemic, she wants to ensure her customers they are open and grateful for the business model her mother implemented years ago.

“My mother was an excellent control person,” she said. “We always had money set aside for emergencies. We are able to pay our employees, our insurances and everything in this crisis. She really got this place up and running. She worked two jobs and made us successful. I am thankful for that and because of her, we will continue to flourish.”