A traveler exiting I-30 at Exit 46 in Prescott might wonder about the lively, colorful place with the palm trees and tropical flowers, which appears like an inviting oasis in the desert, and think it’s an unexpected sight for southwest Arkansas. The locals in Prescott, though, know it is a quality Mexican restaurant named Casa Carlos and it is known for its savory dishes and sweet desserts. Casa Carlos is a family restaurant, steeped in tradition with close ties to the community, and proprietor Carlos Zaccarias has found a way to take a challenging era for business owners and create something new and profitable for the restaurant.
Casa Carlos has been in business now for eight years. With many years of experience in the restaurant business, and coming from a family where his brothers also have restaurants, Carlos always dreamed of opening his own. He says opening his own restaurant was the best decision he ever made. Carlos says not only has he been successful, but the people of the Prescott community have made him and his family feel at home. Carlos is now taking the family tradition of restauranteering and passing it onto the next generation. He and wife, Yetzely, have their four children Carlos, Jr., Yeybeth, Leyla, and Sofia at the restaurant most days, and Carlos is teaching his son the ins and outs of the business.
Another tradition that’s integral to Casa Carlos is his support of the local community, especially school and sports. Curley Wolves memorabilia, past and present, can be found all over the restaurant. Carlos says he wanted to give back to the community which has given so much to him. “This is home now,” Carlos says. “My kids go to school here, everyone is friends here, and the people in Prescott have made me feel at home from the minute I arrived.” He even stays open late on Friday nights during football season to give families a place to gather after the game. Carlos is also a huge supporter of a local organization called Project Graduation: a group of like-minded citizens dedicated to keeping kids safe and on the right path to graduating. This year, for Carlos, is a most important year for Project Graduation: Carlos, Jr., will be a senior so dad is looking forward to what the next year brings. Casa Carlos Lead Server, Tim Ledbetter, says the restaurant has been beneficial for community growth. Tim says, “Many people in Prescott love to come here and eat, visit with others, and have a good time. The restaurant has really helped push the community along by giving them a place to go get good food and see everyone they know.”
Of course the biggest draw of Casa Carlos is the food. When asked what separates him from other restaurants, Carlos replies, “Well, we try to be friendly to all the customers, but really, our food is the best.” His best sellers are Cancun, the Rancheros Special, and the Street Tacos. Carlos says these are the three most requested dishes. The dish Casa Carlos is quickly becoming most famous for, though, is the Strawberries and Cream, which is made right there in the Treat Room by Yetzely. The Strawberries and Cream is a special recipe Yetzely created and only she knows the recipe. Carlos says, “She won’t even tell me!”
But wait… let’s back it up a bit. Was there a mention of a Treat Room? There is an entire room devoted to only dessert? Yes, you heard that right. One whole room of the restaurant is solely dedicated to goodies so delectable that it seriously tempts one to skip dinner altogether and go straight for the sweets. How the Treat Room came about, though, is a testament to the ingenuity of a small-business owner when faced with obstacles out of his control. Last year with the pandemic rampaging across the country and establishments being forced to shut down left and right because of new health department guidelines affecting their business, Carlos decided to turn this disadvantage into a plus. When he could no longer use the banquet room for weekly club meetings, he came up with an innovative use for the room: a Treat Room! Oh, what a success it has been. Now, the Treat Room is one of the features most talked about at Casa Carlos, and people for miles come for the hand-dipped ice cream, Mangonadas, that wildly popular Strawberries and Cream, plus many other homemade treats on the menu. Don’t worry, though, Carlos said the Treat Room is here to stay, even after said restrictions are lifted. Carlos continues to add new treats to the menu and is in the process of adding arcade games to the room so the kiddos can also have some fun.
Carlos says, “Just like any business, Casa Carlos has had its ups and downs, but fortunately we’ve been blessed with more of the ups.” He credits that success to the hard work of his family and the support of the community he now calls home. The word “Familia” is on proud display for all to see in the restaurant, so it’s easy to see why a business with this as its core belief has done so well in a cheerful community bonded together by family values and southern hospitality. Carlos says he looks forward to what the future brings as he continues in his effort to bring locals and tourists alike a friendly place to gather with great conversation and even greater food. Casa Carlos offers a unique dining experience with the blend of Mexican cuisine and down-home desserts just waiting to be sampled. One thing is certain, though, whether one is passing through while traveling or lives nearby and out for date night, everyone has to try Yetzely’s secret recipe of Strawberries and Cream! Our taste-testers approve!