Jon Walter spent most of his young adult life as a private chef crafting fine dining culinary creations aboard private yachts and at high-end resorts. From San Francisco, Miami and even the Caribbean, Walter made a career for himself in some of the world’s most premier destinations. While he regards these times as ones filled with rewarding adventure, when it came to his future and raising his daughter, his heart called home. Ready to take on a different kind of adventure, Walter returned to Lubbock.
Walter grew up in the Hub City and discovered his interest in the culinary craft at a young age. From washing dishes at a local Chinese restaurant in high school to eventually running his own business, Walter’s culinary passions always tracked back to the “Hub City.” Upon his return, Walter had the idea of sharing his family’s tamales with the community that played such a significant role in his training as a chef. With no prior tamale making experience and determination to learn a new skill, he rolled his first-ever tamale the same month he opened his business. From humble beginnings, Walter started small by selling in limited quantities at the weekly Wolfforth’s Farmers Market. However, as word spread, the inventory began to sell out. Now, months later, The Tamale Lady stands as a brick-and-mortar restaurant.
“Things evolved so quickly that I knew we were onto something,” said Walter. “When a place came up for rent, I decided to go for it. You only live once, right?”
Creating a perfect tamale is a labor of love. For many, eating this delicious delicacy is a “once in a while” experience that often signals a special occasion like a family gathering or holiday. However, for Walter, his grandmother’s tamales were too special not to be shared with the world. Part of what makes the tamale such an exceptional meal is the communal aspect of its creation and consumption. Making tamales is often a familial experience, and Walter maintains that model at The Tamale Lady.
When Walter is not dishing up the finest tamales in West Texas, he enjoys spending quality time with his friends and family exploring the city. He and his daughter enjoy being outdoors at one of Lubbock’s many parks and take Jujitsu classes together. With an average commute time of 15 minutes, Walter uses the time he gets back not being in stuck in traffic and spends it with his daughter. And, with access to five major interstates and the Lubbock Preston Smith International Airport, Walter appreciates the ease of access when taking a weekend trip or a vacation.
Just as Walter plays hard, he works even harder. By valuing his customers and the quality of the food he serves, Walter’s business grew at an exponential rate.
He attributes much of this growth to the resources and networks available throughout the city. Because of the many amenities found here, including a resilient, pioneering spirit which is, instilled in each citizen as well as the assistance programs that were made available in the early stages of this public health crisis, The Tamale Lady has remained steadfast in Lubbock’s business community.
“Local businesses are hurting the most during 2020, because of the pandemic,” said Walter. “So, supporting local businesses supports families. It’s not just about supporting the business; you’re supporting a family.”
Even through this year, Walter finds comfort and encouragement from his family, customers, and neighbors. With no signs of slowing down, Walter continues to serve tamales at his restaurant, bringing his family’s food and traditions to the people of Lubbock.