Former Teachers Turn to Tacos

Fajita Pete’s franchiser aims to give back to schools, nonprofits

Addiction cost Hugh Guill his career in education, but not his desire to help Texas schools.

Today, Hugh and his wife Rebekah, also a former teacher, use their restaurant business to give back to the Dallas community, where their Smith Restaurant Group operates four Fajita Pete’s locations.

The Guills began their careers working as high school and elementary level teachers and met in Houston, where they worked for charter schools.

Beginning as a high school social studies teacher at KIPP Houston High School, Rebekah then shifted to a role as a social studies content specialist for KIPP Houston, overseeing history curriculum and teacher training. 

Rebekah’s love for community involvement and support deepened as she moved into nonprofit work. 

The storefront of the Guill’s new location of Fajita Pete’s on Preston and Forest.

Although Hugh’s path echoed the same values as Rebekah’s, his journey from teaching to tacos was a bit more complicated. 

After serving as a middle school science teacher for Teach for America in Denver, Hugh moved back to his hometown and transitioned into a principal role at YES Prep Gulfton in Houston. 

However, Hugh, who silently struggled with substance abuse, was arrested on June 4, 2014, for possession of a controlled substance. 

Following his departure from the school, Hugh entered a recovery program, where he then decided to devote his career to supporting youth in recovery. 

Hugh enrolled in Rice University’s business school and completed his MBA before joining the Association of Recovery Schools, a consulting agency dedicated to opening high schools that help teens get sober.

Transitioning to start-up company Young People in Recovery, Hugh continued to raise awareness and support for those struggling with addiction, even speaking about the national drug crisis at a White House press conference. 

Experienced in the nonprofit space, the Guills helped with the branding and foundation of Fajita Pete’s with their friend Pedro “Pete” Mora. In 2019, they began franchising the restaurant in Dallas to become further involved with community engagement.

Hugh now serves as the chief branding officer of Fajita Pete’s and founder and CEO of Smith Restaurant Group, where Rebekah works as the director of community engagement. Rebekah organizes and leads spirit nights and communicates with local nonprofits to coordinate fundraisers or catered lunches. 

“It seems like kind of a leap or a chance to go from the classroom to restaurants, but it actually made a lot of sense in terms of finding ways to make our work in the restaurant space more meaningful to us personally and also impactful in the communities that we’re in,” Rebekah said.

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