For over 30 years Chimi’s has been a staple in the Tulsa area. The locations may have changed several times, but Chimi’s overall popularity has remained relatively unchanged. Chimi’s extensive menu offers many popular options including classic favorites like fajitas, enchiladas and tacos. After all these years, the shrimp enchiladas are still the favorite of many patrons, as well as a tasty, rich seafood chowder that is impossible not to overeat. The chimichangas fly out of the kitchen as a favorite to many. The rib-eye carne asada is juicy, charred just right, and a perfectly smoked dish with tons of flavor. The legendary Chimi’s tortillas, made fresh in front of the customers through a glassed-off area, are some of the most flavorful tortillas around.
Here’s how a legend is born: It begins with an incident or event worth repeating, something so special and interesting that people are compelled to repeat it. It then gets passed along by word-of-mouth, from person to person, and from generation to generation until it has been talked about time and time again, existing in the hearts and minds of countless admirers.
This sounds an awful lot like Chimi’s, where the legend has continued since 1983.
Generations have enjoyed some of Green Country’s best Mexican cuisine at any one of the three Chimi’s locations in Tulsa. Owner Brandon Fischer attributes the restaurant’s ongoing success to devoted customers, excellent employees and the great food, of course. The chef and owner refuses to take any of the credit for the legend that is Chimi’s.
“Customers and amazing employees, that’s it, 100 percent. We’ve got a great client base,” says Fischer. “We’ve got customers coming in who, 30 years ago, started coming in to eat with us. Now their children are bringing in their children.”
Fischer says that nearly two dozen employees scattered among the three restaurant sites have been working for Chimi’s for over 20 years, including some who have happily married each other, as well as others whose children are now also employees of the restaurant. Fischer believes that the customers receive a sense of family when they arrive, because in a sense, he’s fostered that atmosphere in the staff members.
“My general manager and kitchen manager met and got married here, and they’ve both been here for close to 20 years,” he says.
As for the food, Fischer strives to put out a fantastic product every day. His lifelong love of Chimi’s is a big reason he strives to make a good impression every time. As a kid, he used to frequent the restaurant on special occasions and now to own his favorite place to eat is a special treat. When Fischer made the decision to enter the restaurant business, he had no second thoughts. Chimi’s was not just his first choice — it was the only restaurant he wanted to buy.
“I have seven brothers and sisters. As a big family, we were very pretty poor growing up,” he says. “Maybe it was my birthday coming here as a kid, something like three times. We came on a Friday once and they had the shrimp enchiladas, and I thought it was the most amazing thing I’d ever eaten. Back then, they only served it on Fridays. Now, we serve it every day of the week.”
Fischer has enjoyed tweaking the menu here and there since purchasing the restaurant over 10 years ago, still holding on to a bit of the original Sonoran-style Mexican dishes. After all these years, the shrimp enchiladas are still the favorite of many patrons, as well as a tasty, rich seafood chowder that is impossible not to overeat. The chimichangas fly out of the kitchen as a favorite to many. Fischer recently introduced a rib-eye carne asada. It’s juicy, charred just right, and a perfectly smoked dish with tons of flavor. Without a doubt, it is destined to be a crowd pleaser. The legendary Chimi’s tortillas, made fresh in front of the customers through a glassed-off area, are some of the most flavorful tortillas around.
Customers always want to see something new, but Fischer is careful to seek input from the people who eat at the restaurant frequently. Sometimes changes he’s made have been reversed in order to keep clients happy.
Originally from California, Fischer came to Tulsa as a young person, and after moving away, he had to come back to the area to make his mark on the restaurant business. He says the employees and the customers feel like a family and keeping them happy is of utmost importance.
“Our customers have so many different choices out there,” Fischer says. “It’s important to listen to what the customers like, as well as the staff, and being in tune with that. They’re the reason I do what I do. Without them, it wouldn’t be Chimi’s.”
The Cherry Street location has incredible ambience that Fischer is very proud of. A few of the signs that used to be outside have been moved indoors, adding to the cantina feel customers have enjoyed through the years. The building that houses the restaurant was formerly an elementary school built on a bit of a hill on Peoria Avenue. It has one of the best views of the Tulsa skyline. Fischer also says that the convenient parking available is important to a lot of the customers and it’s a plus, when you consider other restaurants close to downtown don’t have many choices for parking.
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