Edgar Torres is no stranger to East Austin or the service industry. He grew up around his parent's restaurant, Mi Madre's, an Austin staple on Manor Road for over 25 years. His wife Christina isn't afraid of a challenge. The first in her family to go to college, Christina says no one thought she could do it, but that just drove her harder. When the two of them got together to fulfill their dream of owning a business in the East Austin community, it's no wonder the resulting School House Pub became a neighborhood hit.

Of course, Edgar has experienced his share of business failures. "I never regret opening and closing a restaurant and it's turned into something even better because I believe if I wouldn't have done that, then this would have never happened," Edgar says.

Both Edgar and Christina say that being a self-starter is key to making your dreams come true.

"My advice to EAPrep students and the first graduating class would be to follow your dreams through and then keep going," Christina says. "Every day, make a difference. Make it happen."


Hoover Alexander, owner and chef of the legendary Hoover's Cooking—East Austin's most famous spot for Texas home cooking—sat down to give us some advice about sticking with your dreams. As the owner of a successful restaurant for close to twenty years, he knows something about it.

"Dreaming big is something I've always done and still do," he says. "It took me a long time in my life journey to connect with what's in my heart. I call it the Divine Stirring of the Pudding. How can I make a difference in this East Austin community that I am a product of?"

Hoover began his food service career at the historic Night Hawk restaurant during his college days at the University of Texas. It was there that the founder of Night Hawk, Harry Akin, was the first to integrate the lunch counter in Austin and to advocate for Black and Hispanic employees to work the front of the house, including in management. It's also where Hoover's "Dreams of a Dishwasher" to start his own restaurant first began. Through the years, Hoover honed his culinary skills at fine establishments all over Austin until one day, in 1998, he was ready to open his own place. That's when he returned home to the eastside.

"I'm actually a fifth generation Texan and a native of East Austin. These used to be my stomping grounds," Hoover says. In fact, his restaurant on Manor Road is just a short distance from his childhood home in the neighborhood where he continues to give back, serving up delicious food to his customers, organizing food and wellness programs for the community, and serving on the boards of half a dozen charitable and professional organizations.

"Dreams sometimes take longer than you think at first, but to claim ownership is such a great feeling. To be able to say, not only did I dream it, I did it," Hoover says.