FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM) – There is an endless list of Tex-Mex restaurants with varying incarnations of breakfast tacos, black beans and brisket in DFW. One of my favorite menu options — enchiladas — could be one of the world’s most perfect meals.

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When I came upon Enchiladas Ole in north Fort Worth, I was hoping it would be all about the sauce. That’s what got owner Mary Perez into this business. Her jars can be found on store shelves inside Central Market, making her signature “Tex-Mex with a twist” taste gourmet and look easy.

(credit: KTVT/KTXA)

(credit: KTVT/KTXA)

But I didn’t first hear about Mary based on her food. It was her philanthropy. Starting in the nonprofit sector 30 years ago, she had a long history of donating and community involvement. Her connections proved useful when she followed her passion to begin the business of jarring her sauces and, just this spring, opening her first restaurant. Having never owned a business, she admits it has been challenging, but certainly rewarding.

Every person who works for her was unemployed before she opened the doors to Enchiladas Ole. Two of her staffers work on a volunteer basis, gaining invaluable job experience and a home away from home. Often times customers who can’t afford a meal work on an honor system. Mary lets them “pay when they can.”

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“Our mission when we opened was that we wouldn’t turn away anyone who couldn’t afford to pay. And we’ve stuck to that. It’s service first. Service to our customers and service to the community,” Mary said. “I guess that’s the nonprofit side of me!”

Using that kind of mantra in a for-profit business is working out. Customers continue to rave about her cheese, verde and sour cream and chicken enchiladas, in all six variations, which are served daily and include a unique curry and mole “enmolada.” She is considering a saffron paella dish for the spring, hailing to her mother’s Spanish roots. Patrons also speak of the atmosphere being warm, friendly and laid back. When you stop by, order the “Texican,” a brisket enchilada with the original red sauce. And make yourself at home.

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