The food is customized by the customer on an assembly line with a range of toppings, sauces and toppings to choose from. (Katelyn Reinhart/Community Impact Journal)
Before becoming a co-owner of a restaurant, Aaron Pool said he had a college business degree, a “fake until you make it” attitude and a restaurant name already decided on. Nothing could have stopped him, he says, not even his lack of restaurant experience.
Gadzooks Enchiladas & Soup, which has since expanded to four locations across the valley, started as an idea while Pool was studying business at Arizona State University. He knew he wanted to find a niche, he said, and he had always loved enchiladas. Pool said his positive attitude and naivety were major contributors to the restaurant chain’s success.
“Anyone can open a restaurant, but looking back, I think if a lot of people knew how hard it is, they never would,” Pool said. “If you’re not passionate, it will wear you out. Success is hard if you’re not prepared to wear all the hats.
It doesn’t hurt that he sincerely craves the enchiladas that can be created at Gadzooks Enchiladas & Soup. He said he had been eating his favorite order for nine years.
The Gadzooks Enchiladas & Soup menu features dishes like tacos, enchiladas, nachos, and soup. Toppings include vegetarian options in addition to meat, and toppings are available for lovers of all spice levels. Pool said some of his dishes, such as sweet and spicy cornbread, have garnered what he calls a “cult following” among food-lovers.
“Gadzooks certainly has its quirks as a restaurant,” he said. “We’re a little bit different – you can tell that even from the name – and I think people see that and appreciate that.”
Pool co-owns the restaurant with his brother, Jared Pool, and also serves pastries from his mother’s bakery, Mama Linda’s Bakeshop. The pool first opened Gadzooks Enchiladas & Soup in 2013 and the Tempe location opened in 2019.
Pool sees the customizable aspect of the restaurant as one of its most important features.
The food is customized by the customer on an assembly line with a range of toppings, sauces and toppings to choose from. Pool said Gadzooks Enchiladas & Soup gives people the ability to choose their own culinary adventure.
“Gadzooks is a restaurant of textures and flavors,” he said. “If I can give people advice before they come in, it’s not to eat simple enchiladas, because you’ll miss it.”•