While the enchilada has been feasted on by families around the world for centuries, Gadzooks Enchiladas & Soup prides itself on redefining the classic dish with fresh ingredients and bold flavors.
The establishment currently has two locations in Phoenix, and soon enchilada lovers on ASU’s Tempe campus will be walking distance from a new location opening on University Drive.
While Gadzooks is known for their enchiladas, it also serves homemade soup, cheesy nachos and chopped salad.
The founder of Gadzooks, Aaron Pool, is an ASU alumnus who studied at the W. P. Carey School of Business.
At the new Tempe location, Pool said local beer from his brother's Phoenix-based business, Wren House Brewing Company, will be available with taps that no other Gadzooks location currently provides.
The enchilada, of course, will be available at all locations – an item that Pool said he prefers with tomatillo chicken, guajillo-braised short rib and Christmas (red and green) sauce, all topped with an egg, guacamole, hot sauce, jalapeño ranch and cabbage slaw.
“What makes Gadzooks so fun and approachable is the combinations that you can create,” he said.
Pool said he aims to give his menu items a quality "wow factor" through the use of fresh ingredients and condiments made from scratch.
“Every single item has its own unique, bold flavor and texture and color,” he said.
Brytany Johnson said she has worked with the company for nearly four years and will soon be manager at the Tempe location.
Johnson said she is excited to work with a new demographic in Tempe and agrees that the unique flavors and customizable options of enchiladas at Gadzooks makes it a star dish.
“We can make a bunch of varieties of enchiladas,” she said. "There's a lot of really great combos."
Being an ASU alumnus, Pool said he is glad to bring his business closer to his alma mater.
“It was always a dream to have a location in Tempe, going to school there,” Pool said.
He said his time at ASU helped prepare him for starting and expanding a business. The elective classes he took allowed him to better understand specific skills about how to run his business and narrow down interests, he said.
"ASU had a significant impact for me," Pool said. "I enjoyed going to those classes. I was excited about them."
The Arizona Microcredit Initiative is a student-run nonprofit organization at ASU which empowers underserved entrepreneurs to start or expand their business through business consulting, microloans and producing content for businesses.
Justin Ferrara, the executive director of the Arizona Microcredit Initiative and an ASU junior majoring in business data analytics and finance, said he believes running and operating a small business is a tough, yet admirable task for entrepreneurs.
"The mere fact that Gadzooks is able to expand and open additional restaurants is just further evidence that what they're doing in their other cities is valuable and received well by the people that they serve," Ferrara said.
Ferrara said he believes that starting a business comes with many uncertainties, but seeing ASU graduates succeed serves as an opportunity to better understand and relate to the journey of a successful business owner.
"When an alumni or someone in the ASU community is able to carve that path or make some sort of progress down that channel, it really offers people that are going to follow in those footsteps a faster path towards learning," he said.
Pool said he enjoys supporting the ASU community and understands what it's like to be an undergraduate student with various pressures and big dreams.
"I'm really excited for being on campus," he said. "I hope that people understand that I'm like an open book if they ever want to contact me and ask questions and learn things that I went through."
Pool said he is also planning to open a fourth location in downtown Chandler by the end of this year.