It began a few years ago with a small group of family and friends with a few fireworks to set off on the 4th of July. It has since grown to be a community-wide gathering with free food, fireworks and festivities, attracting a crowd estimated in the thousands. This year’s celebration will be the biggest ever, according to founder Misael Nunez.
Things will be done differently this year, Nunez said, but the party will be even bigger with more fireworks than ever.
“This year, it has to be bigger,” he said, grinning as he enjoyed a short break with his family at their home one recent Sunday afternoon.
He held his hands up, circling his fingers to illustrate the size of the mortars to be used for this year’s pyrotechnics.
“Last year it was this,” he said, his fingertips touching before he expanded the gap and added, “This year it is this!”
Nunez’s daughter Jennifer recalled the very first time they celebrated with considerably smaller fireworks.
“It was him (Misael) going up with a lighter and then running away,” she said with a giggle.
The birth of Tres Hermanos Nunez
Surrounded by his family as they snacked on freshly prepared ears of corn, Nunez said the arrival of his daughter 16 years ago motivated him to establish his first restaurant. He was working in Marion, Indiana at a sporting goods store at the time, and knew his family needed more income.
“I was making $300 every two weeks. And, when you’ve got a baby .. right? It was not enough for diapers and insurance and everything,” he said, noting he first relocated to Ironton, Ohio before landing in Grayson.
“And that’s where became home. Grayson is still home,” he said, explaining he moved to neighboring Boyd County a couple of years ago but still holds Carter County dear to his heart.
His first restaurant, which did not have the family name Nunez at the end, was in Greenup. The first restaurant to carry the full Tres Hermanos Nunez title was in Grayson, and was followed by locations in Cannonsburg, Paintsville, Kenova (West Virginia), South Point (Ohio), Olive Hill and Ashland. Most recently Melissa’s Cocina was opened in Grayson at the former Shoney’s location.
“And I’m working with an uncle to open a taco place in Russell,” Nunez added.
Relaxing for a few minutes with his family on a sunny Sunday, Misael Nunez confessed he had already been mowing grass that morning until he ran out of fuel, and intended to be back on the lawn before long. He gets up early each morning and enjoys tackling problems, especially when repairs or renovations are needed, and said he tries to teach his children the value of honest effort.
“I don’t work for money – I just work. That keeps me healthy, I guess. If you work, money comes by itself later,” Nunez said. “I like to stay busy. That’s just me.”
“His biggest problem is he has to do it all,” said William Robinson, who has been part of the Tres Hermanos family since before the first restaurant opened. As examples, Robinson cites the renovations and additions Nunez accomplished during the initial Covid-19 shutdown including installation of a carport to allow outdoor dining at the Grayson restaurant.
“I’m still not finished,” Nunez said, citing plans to install new fans, lights and furnishings.
“There’s always a problem. It’s part of my job,” he concluded.
Melissa’s Cocina Buffet & Grill
Melissa’s Cocina at 610 C.W. Stevens Boulevard in Grayson, which previously featured a self-serve buffet in addition to orders from the menu, will require a change in the serving style upon reopening Monday July 6, he said.
“There are a lot of restrictions on buffets. It has to be cafeteria style – not buffet,” Nunez said, adding the Melissa’s Cocina staff is now being trained for the changes.
A photo from last year’s celebration.
Burritos instead of Chicken Deluxe for 2020
With the entire Tres Hermanos Nunez team on the job for the July 4 celebration, Nunez said they will aim to serve people quickly as part of the social distancing to be practiced.
Whereas in the past guests were offered a choice of sides and drinks, this year’s visitors will receive an individually wrapped burrito and a choice of bottled water or Pepsi products.
“We’ll start cooking around 12 and probably hand out burritos from 6 to 8 and then at 9:45 or 10 o’clock – the big show!” Nunez said, adding the party will also include a DJ in the restaurant parking lot.
“I just do it for my people, my customers … for fun,” Nunez said.
“We do it to give back to everyone,” Jennifer added.
While the July 4, 2020 celebration will be in the area around the Grayson Tres Hermanos Nunez on Main Street, this year’s fireworks display will be launched from the Grayson Walking Track.
The Nunez family (from left) Brayan, Misael, Jennifer (holding Simba), William Robinson, Melissa and Matilde.
Melissa’s Cocina namesake Melissa Nunez with Simba, one of many family pets.
“We have one big dog, one little dog, two peacocks (“They bite!”), five ducks, chickens, turkeys, a bunny and three parakeets,” Jennifer Nunez said.
Story and Photos by TIM PRESTON
Carter County Post
Photos and story from the Tres Hermanos Nunez July 4, 2019 celebration can be found at https://www.blogger.com/blog/post/edit/2969239007406970315/1793787984069850447?hl=en