Javier’s celebrates 25 years of Mexican dining in Northern Utah
Maria Bravo delivers a tray of steaming hot food at Javier's Mexican Food at the location on Harrison Blvd. in Ogden Tuesday, June 21, 2016. (BRIAN NICHOLSON/Special to the Standard-Examiner)
Brian Nicholson

Javier's celebrates 25 years of Mexican dining in Northern Utah

OGDEN — It’s not uncommon to visit any of the seven Javier’s restaurants along the Wasatch Front and see Javier Chavez’s smiling face.

The 66-year-old Ogden restaurateur still tries to visit each of his locations at least once a week, but if you want to get a handshake and a pat on the back from the jovial owner/operator; his 4875 Harrison Blvd.venue is his main stomping grounds.

Warms chips and fresh salsa are a hot commodity at Chavez’s restaurants as are his authentic tamales, tacos, chimichangas and chili verde. Chavez said he loves the enchiladas and tacos the best, but then he adds many other items as his favorites too.

The No. 6 is the most popular item on the restaurant’s menu — three enchiladas — but the chimichangas are a close second. Chavez said he likes to send people away happy and full with Mexican food that won’t upset their stomachs because it is too hot.

“We want our customers to be smiling when they leave and go back to the office and go home,” he said.

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Chavez has a lot to smile about these days. He and his family are celebrating 25 years of serving up delicious Mexican food to eager patrons along the Wasatch Front.

It was 1991 when Chavez opened his first restaurant on 205 W. 29th St. in Ogden. He never dreamed then that he would have seven operating restaurants one day.

“I never thought we have this,” Chavez said as he looked around the large banquet room at his Harrison location. “When my kids were little we opened our first restaurant and things were so good. We were so supported by the community, my wife said we should open a second restaurant.”

Three years after the first Javier’s opened came another restaurant at 755 N. Harrisville Road in Harrisville. That location thrived, so Chavez opened the third location, at 703 Washington Blvd.

At that time, Chavez and his wife Amada decided they would have a restaurant for each of their four children, so they opened another eatery at 4874 Harrison Blvd. The restaurant was originally just north of its current site but in the early 2000s, Chavez acquired the property to the south and expanded into the large Javier’s that sits there now.

“We thought we would have four and now we have seven,” Chavez said with a laugh. His children are grown now and while they are still very involved with the business, they don’t manage any of the locations.

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A lunch special of Texas flat chicken enchiladas at Javier's Mexican Food on Harrison Blvd. in Ogden Tuesday, June 21, 2016. (BRIAN NICHOLSON/Special to the Standard-Examiner)
Brian Nicholson

Chavez doesn’t shy away from working hard, and said he gained his work ethic from farming in Mexico in his youth and from running. Chavez started running as a young boy in Mexico and tried to run in the Olympics.

He said it was a very political process and he wasn’t selected to run, but he was discovered by a coach at Brigham Young University who offered him a spot to run there. Chavez didn’t accept at first, but later changed his mind. By then, the scholarship was gone, but Weber State University came calling.

“It changed my life,” said Chavez, who moved to Ogden and never looked back. “I thought I would return but this became my home.”

Chavez said he attributes his drive for running to his success as a restaurateur and to his family, of course.

“My wife and I and now my children — we make decisions about the business together. It has always been that way,” he said.

He cooked alongside his wife while he put himself through college and that’s why the two decided to open their own restaurants. “It was my dream,” he said.

Chavez said he loves Weber State University and always wanted to have a restaurant to accommodate the fans after sporting events. Now, he said, “That’s what I have and that’s what I love.”

The customers have their favorite things about Javier’s too. Ogden resident Jill Gibson said she enjoys taking her family there; her son has already chosen to go to Javier’s for his 8th birthday next week.

“My boys like the chips and salsa; some other restaurants we have been to the salsa is too spicy for our kids. We can always make the salsa hotter, but not milder,” Gibson said in response to a Facebook query about Javier’s.

Javier’s has become a meeting place for Gibson’s family. When her sister is in town from Kansas, the family always gathers there for dinner.

“They set up tables for a big group in a hurry,” Gibson said.

LaDawn Coburn of Ogden said Javier’s is her favorite restaurant. Her family goes there enough that they have a favorite server, Maria, who knows exactly what they want and gets things going as soon as they walk through the door.

Jordan Richards and her family love the nachos dulces and will sometimes stop in just for the dessert, crispy cinnamon tortilla chips loaded with ice cream and caramel.

Chavez said many patrons appreciate the warm reception they receive from employees when they dine at any of locations.

“I tell my employees that the customer is most important and we need to be positive. I am positive and I want to pass that along to everyone who comes through the door,” Chavez said.

Chavez has been marking his 25th anniversary all year and plans to have a big celebration in the late summer or fall at his original site on 29th Street in Ogden.

He even started to observe the milestone anniversary early with the opening of his newest store in Logan last fall.

Javier’s locations:

• Layton — 449 W. Antelope Drive

• Ogden — 703 Washington Blvd.

• Ogden — 4874 Harrison Blvd.

• Ogden — 205 W. 29th St.

• Farmington — 1050 Shepard Lane

• Harrisville — 755 N. Harrisville Road

• Logan — 2281 Main St.

For hours and more information, visit the website..