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Howard’s Charro Cafe, one of Omaha’s first Mexican restaurants, is under new ownership.

Araseli and David Murillo, who also own Sam’s Leon Mexican Foods at 20th and L Streets, purchased the business, which has been operating in Omaha for about 60 years. It’s been at its current location, 4443 S. 13th St., since 1990.


Araseli Murillo said her husband has worked with Debra Orduna-Estrada, who ran Howard’s for many years, at Sam’s; she purchases masa and tortillas from her.

“She had been talking about selling recently,” Araseli Murillo said. “She really didn’t want to close the restaurant, and no one in the family wanted to take over the business.”

Murillo said they are keeping the same menu and have been doing some remodeling in the space.

“We are thinking of adding some more authentic meals to the menu,” she said. “We want to do a little bit more with it.”


The late Dolores “Doris” Wright founded Howard’s, named for her father, Howard Castaneda. It opened at 13th and J Streets in 1990, but began in the mid-1950s in the basement of an apartment building on South 24th Street. Wright had little more than $30 and a family recipe for refried beans when she started the restaurant. In 1965, she moved the restaurant to a house at 5219 S. 24th St., and for 25 years, diners often had to stand in line to get a seat at one of the 16 busy tables.

South Omaha staple continues tradition under new ownership

OMAHA, Neb. “The main thing was I wanted my mom’s legacy to continue,” Debra A. Orduna-Strada said.

Orduna-Estrada gets emotional because it is personal. After decades of her family members at the helm, the future of her south Omaha restaurant was in doubt.

“My siblings were concerned about my health,” Orduna-Estrada said. “They didn’t want to lose another sibling, so I needed to concentrate on my health.”

She needs a new kidney. She has for several months, and rumors of Howard’s Charro Cafe closing came at a time when two other south Omaha staples closed their doors for good. Piccolo’s in 2015 and the Bohemian Cafe a year later.

The Murillo family plans to keep Howard’s open for many years to come.

“There are a lot of customers that have been coming in here for many, many years,” Araseli Murillo said. “We want to make sure we do it justice and keep serving them the same way.”

The family gave WOWT 6 News a tour of the restaurant. New carpeting, fresh paint and other changes give it cosmetic improvements. One thing that will not change for customers is the menu.

“They don’t want us to change anything,” Murillo said. “They don’t want us to change the recipes or anything, so we’ll keep it the same. We’re just going to make it better.”

The Murillos also want to keep Debra involved, knowing the restaurant would not be here today without her family’s decades of hard work.

“I don’t ever want you to feel like this is not your restaurant,” Orduna-Estrada said. “He said it will always be your restaurant, so I’m here to help them.”

Decades have gone by, but her family’s dedication has never wavered. Now, they are prepared to work as a team, continuing to serve south Omaha in the future.

“They’re wonderful people,” Orduna-Estrada said. “I couldn’t ask for anybody better to take over for us.”

The new owners told WOWT 6 News they are also hoping to bring the mariachis back to perform on the weekend. They are also looking at the possibility of making new additions to the menu.

They will not be removing anything that was already there before. They said preserving that tradition was important for them.

Up Coming Events



11:00 AM –2:00 PM and
4:30 PM - 9:00 PM

11:00 AM –2:00 PM and
4:30 PM - 9:00 PM

11:00 AM –2:00 PM and
4:30 PM - 9:00 PM

11:00 AM –2:00 PM and
4:30 PM - 10:00 PM

11:00 AM – 10:00 PM


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🏈‼️‼️Don't forget HUSKER Specials are all day Saturday 😊‼️‼️🏈 We invite you all to come in Saturday, we will be airing the game & have added these delicious NEW appetizers o...

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Howard's Charro will now be open 11AM-10PM Fridays & Saturdays!!!

(No more closing early in the middle of the day on Fridays 😄)
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