By Brianna Moore, College Times
Going into business with family members can be a nightmare. For Aaron and Jared Pool, however, their family business is a dream come true.
“It’s good working together,” says Aaron, who co-owns Gadzooks Enchiladas and Soup with Jared. “You always hear the horror stories. Everyone says, ‘Don’t work with family’ or ‘Don’t work with friends.’ In a friendship, people can burn out easily. When you have family, you know they’re all in.”
Recently, the brothers opened a third Gadzooks location on University Drive and Wilson Street. The others are at Seventh Street and Osborn Road in Phoenix, and 40th Street and Camelback Road in Arcadia.
“We inherently trust each other,” Jared says. “If he’s here having to deal with something, I trust him and vice versa. If we were really young and didn’t know who we are, it’d be harder. But we experienced other relationships, personal and business, and came together at a time where we could really grow together and take on challenges without making it personal.”
Aaron, the mastermind behind Gadzooks, graduated from W.P. Carey School of Business at ASU in 2009. During his freshman year, he made the decision to be a restaurateur.
“I knew I wanted to open a restaurant, but I wasn’t sure what kind,” Aaron says. “It wasn’t until that first winter break in Lake Tahoe, and our mom made chicken enchiladas for the 12 of us that were up there. Sitting at that table, when I was 18, I was like ‘That’s what it is.’”
Enjoying his mom’s homemade enchiladas on a family vacation sparked an “a-ha!” moment for Aaron. For the next three and a half years at ASU, Aaron developed his business plan for his casual, fast-service enchilada restaurant.
After graduating, Aaron had a hard time finding a bank to finance his dream. In the meantime, he honed his recipes in his parents’ kitchen, taking his mother’s specialties and blending them with his own.
In 2013, with the help of his brother, Aaron opened the first Gadzooks in Phoenix. The second location in Arcadia came four years later in 2017. Tempe was next.
“We always knew we wanted to be in Tempe somewhere,” Aaron says. “We were presented this space two years ago and it just made sense for us. We wanted to be just off-campus, but close enough to the university so that we can get students.”
The Pool brothers have seen plenty of success since 2013. Jared says the secret of their success is their attention
“We want to make sure that every customer experiences exactly the same flavor profile,” Jared says. “Aaron and I are super observant. If we make mistakes or watch others make mistakes, we try to learn from those and try to be really attentive to it. Being very detail oriented helps a lot.”
The Pool brothers take pride in providing customers with an eccentric eating experience.
At Gadzooks, guests are invited to “choose it,” “fill it,” “cover it,” “add it,” “salsa it,” “top it,” “dress it” and “combine it.”
The main dishes are enchiladas, street tacos, chopped salad, Linda’s homemade tortilla soup, spicy potato corn chowder, head honcho’s nachos, stuffed poblano or griddled breakfast hash.
Next up, diners can choose from roasted tomatillo chicken, green chile pork shoulder, modelo-braised bison ($9.25), smashed jack potato, sautéed spinach mushroom, braised short ribs, chihuahua cheese, asadero cheese or sweet and spicy cornbread, all of which are $8.25, unless otherwise noted.
Take the dish and cover it with red, green or “Christmas” sauce, and asadero cheese and chihuahua cheese. Goat cheese (75 cents), griddled-fried over-easy egg ($1.25) or hand-smashed guacamole ($1.65) can be added. Salsa—Uncle Rico’s pico; salsa verde; toasted arbol roja and blended habanero lava—scratch-made crema, crumbled cotija cheese, honey vinaigrette slaw and pickled onion are extras. Salads can be dressed with jalapeno ranch, Gadzooks buttermilk, threechile vinaigrette or honey vinaigrette.
“We value choice and we like to give people options,” Jared says. “You get this eclectic blend of flavoring that just gives you lots of options to be unique and different. That’s why people love Gadzooks because they can make what they want, and no dish is the same.”