What began as a regular day working on their soon- to- open business El Frio Express, quickly turned into an unexpected soft opening for the new Wright family-owned business. “Honestly we were caught with our pants down on this one,” says son Christian Wright, who has helped his family to prepare for their new business downtown. “We weren’t really expecting to open, but someone posted a video online, and when the community saw it, they just started pouring in,” said Christian. “We had the windows and blinds closed but you could still see people coming by and peeking their head through the window!” says Irma Wright, the matriarch of the Wright family.
El Frio Express has only been open one week and already the community has come together in full support and excitement for the new downtown drinking spot, located in the Old Regions Bank, directly at the heart of the new continuous Downtown Entertainment District. “When the old Regions Bank building came up for sale, our father already knew what he wanted to do with it. This idea has been in the works for a while. Luckily, we were able to come together and work as a family and team on this one,” notes Christian. Each part of the building and opening process has been run by a different family member, and each person involved happened to be there on their unexpected soft opening. “Our first transaction was at 6:31pm and we ended up closing at 11pm. We closed the doors and the windows and people were still trying to get in the doors, and looking in the windows. Saturday was just as busy, but it was longer and even crazier!” notes Christian. “There is a photo on our Facebook page, and it was taken at exactly 1:10 am, the night of our soft opening,” says youngest sister Ashley Wright. “It was a really long night, but you could tell we were completely exhausted, and happy,” said Ashley.
Since the opening wasn’t supposed to occur as quickly as it did, on Sunday, June 27th, the family tried to come up with a different game plan on how to direct traffic. “The traffic when people were coming was just horrible. People were everywhere and they were kind of just getting bottlenecked out there. At one point a police officer was directing traffic. We probably should’ve given him something as a thank you!,” said Christian and Irma Wright. “We are so pleased with the community support so far! I honestly couldn’t be happier!” said Irma. “We already have some regulars,” said Allison. “Someone has been coming here every day since we opened, and that’s been the greatest part, just seeing how happy the community is with what we have done here,” said Allison. “For right now, this business is going to stay within the family. We definitely have plans for hiring extra help, and we are probably going to need it at the rate we have been going, but for right now we are working together and figuring out the kinks,” said Irma. Their older sister Priscilla Wright, who lives in Austin and has tons of experience running bars, restaurants etc., laid out lots of specifics and instructions for the family to follow, which according to the family, has been incredibly helpful over the last week.
El Frio Express has an expansive menu, allowing customers to choose from one of several flavors, making their drink menu unique to the downtown area. “What’s great about this location is that we have the ability to allow our customers to drive up, order and send them a buzzer that tells them when their drinks are ready. Customers cannot purchase the alcohol outside of the building, however for the flow of traffic they can drive around, park, and sit around their beautifully designed and decorated interior and exterior building. “The mural around the building was constructed and designed by Darlene Taylor, a family friend and local Texarkana artist,” said Irma. The Wright family did receive some questionable feedback in regards to their design and name. “What people don’t understand is that we are a blended family. My mother is Hispanic, and my father is White. So we have a heritage that we love and wanted to share with others through this business,” said Allison. El Frio Express pays respect to their heritage while also symbolizing the passing of the family baton from parents to children. “I truly think Texarkana needed a place like this after COVID, where people can come and enjoy themselves, enjoy the atmosphere and a few drinks. One day we would like to see this as a family establishment, but right now it’s only for those 21+,” said Irma. “I feel like this place for our family is just a puzzle piece that was missing. We couldn’t have done this without the support of all our children, even our two oldest boys who have been supportive from the beginning, but from a distance,” said Irma.
“Our father is a workhorse. He has been the brains of our family operation for as long as we can remember, and now it’s time for us (the children) to take over. We all have our own skills, our own abilities, and this new place seemed like a way for the children to take over the legacy our father has left for us, and run with it in new business ventures and ideas,” said Christian. The family owns several other buildings downtown, and their next big adventure is going to be a rooftop bar with a gaming area downstairs for adults 21+. “It’s going to be great. It’s already come together so well. While the family is going to continue to work together, we (the children) feel as though it’s our turn to help support our father in his dreams instead of the other way around. He and our mom have given us all of the tools that we need to be successful, but it is still hard to fill his incredible shoes,” said Christian.
El Frio Express is located at 204 E 4th Street Texarkana, AR 71854
Their summer hours are: Closed Monday
Open Tuesday- Thursday 2 p.m.-11p.m.
Open Fridays and Saturdays 12 p.m.-12 a.m.
Open Sundays 11 a.m.-8 p.m.
The hours are subject to change as the seasons do and will be posted on their Facebook page in the future.