Two East Idaho restaurants that have long provided Mexican food to hungry high schools kids, college students pulling all-nighters, those working odd hours and bar-goers needing something to fill their stomachs, as well as anyone needing a quick pick-me-up, have a new look and name these days.
The eateries formerly known as Los Roberto's are now Burtos Mexican Food.
Owner Ana Dominguez — who owns the restaurant at 754 N. Main St. in Pocatello and another like it in Blackfoot — changed the name to avoid confusion with an out-of-state chain by the same name.
So that's why there are now Burtos signs up, but Dominguez emphasized that beyond the rebranding, everything else is still the same.
Dominguez has owned the Pocatello restaurant for 16 years, though there were two owners before her. She opened the Blackfoot location at 990 Market St. more than 14 years ago.
So how did she come up with the new name for the restaurants?
She noticed throughout the years that people used the name "Burtos" for the eatery in Blackfoot.
“All the kids call it Burtos,” Dominguez said. “All my high school students — they're my No. 1 customers."
She's seen kids grow up and then get married, and throughout the years they would always call the restaurant "Burtos."
“And that's where I got Burtos from,” she said. “I got it from all these teenagers who would call it Burtos.”
In fact, Dominguez said she never actually heard anybody call the Blackfoot location "Los Roberto's."
“So I thought, 'All right, we'll keep it,'” she said.
Both locations stay busy over the course of a year.
“They kind of switch out places,” Dominguez said. “Blackfoot is busy during the summer, believe it or not."
In Pocatello, business decreases a bit when college students go home for the summer, though she says they still chug right along during that time.
"It's not a huge change and it's kind of a change that we're used to,” Dominguez said. “And we know it will pull down a little bit but not a lot.”
The Blackfoot location picks up from June until September before slowing again.
“But Pocatello, that's my bread and butter,” Dominguez said. “That's my No. 1 business there — that's where it's nonstop."
In fact, sometimes vehicles will be waiting in a line all the way from the parking lot around the back of the building and to the drive-thru window on the other side, she said.
While everything at the restaurant is still the same as it was before the name change, she's going to wait and see whether or not to continue the long-time popular 24-hour service.
She wants to see how the COVID-19 pandemic and related issues play out first.
“A lot of businesses in Pocatello, they are not 24 hours any more,” Dominguez said.
Some eateries have cut their hours because it doesn't pencil out to be open late, she says.
But overall, the pandemic hasn't had a huge impact on business at Burtos.
“I'm very thankful for that,” Dominguez said.
Business at the eatery comes from a wide range of people, she says. Some Idaho State University students sit there and do homework throughout the night.
And they get a lot of business from people who work for the railroad.
Plus, they get a big rush when the bars close along Main Street.
“We would get rushes through the night and that's every day,” she said.
The pandemic did cause business to slow down some during those hours, she said.
“Before, it was pretty much crazy,” Dominguez said.
She'd even work night shifts at times to help out, and cashiers would work practically nonstop throughout their shifts.
There are about 11 employees between both restaurants. with about seven in Pocatello.
And she says it's the employees and loyal customers who have made Burtos such a success over the years.
“We love our customers and we thank our community for keeping us in business,” Dominguez said. “Because without them we wouldn't have a business.”