Starting the Journey


The Rio Grande Valley has a particular “hustle culture.” Residents are known for being hardworking and business-oriented, but while we dream big, those dreams are deeply woven into our family values.

Abraham (Abe) and Valerie (Val) Feliz first met in 2011. Abe was in the process of buying property in Pharr, Texas. Afraid Valerie would think less of him because of the property’s condition, he hesitated to show her. He didn’t think she would understand his vision. To his surprise, she did!

“Valerie understood grit, hard work, and perseverance,” Abe said.

“Values were the core of our being when Val and I met,” Abe continued. “Neither of us was perfect, but we understood the need for God in our lives and the importance of it for a family.”

While there were challenges, Abe said the two found value in each other.

The couple’s relationship evolved, and soon, the couple married and continued dreaming big. The goal was to one day own their own business.

Life completely changed in 2019 when Camila, their first-born daughter, was born. The idea of owning a business took a back seat. Val was immersed in motherhood and the complexity it brings.

“I would bring up business ideas, and Val would talk baby ideas,” Abe recalled. Soon after Camila was born, Val became pregnant again. The excitement was overwhelming. They were going to have a sibling for Camila.

“We heard the heartbeat. We had a sonogram,” Abe recalled. But during the second trimester, Val had a miscarriage. This was a very challenging moment for the couple, but with a lot of faith and healing, Val became pregnant again.

Amid the looming shadows, they found light in the form of their son, Baby Barrett, born in 2021. This breath of life reignited the couple’s aspirations.
“No one prepares you for the difficulties of being a parent,” Abe said. “Having our first child changed my whole perspective of what it means to be a parent.”

The idea of owning their business took root once more, and this time, with a family of their own, they carved out a vision of what their business would look like.

As parents, the couple were looking through a different lens. What would their business look like? Would they have diaper changing tables in restrooms, apps to order on, and curbside options? Would it be family-friendly, and would there be healthy options for moms and dads to eat clean?

The couple decided to leap into the restaurant business, a world they had previously had yet to experience. The two had full-time jobs that kept them busy. Abe is an airline freight pilot and travels to destinations worldwide. Valerie worked in education and continued to do so for 16 years as a teacher and in leadership.

To minimize risks and ensure success, Abe and Valerie opted for a franchise that would provide them with guidance, training, and a proven business model.

This fall, the Feliz family will proudly open their doors to Teriyaki Madness. This Seattle-style franchise started in Las Vegas, Nevada, and is currently in 34 states and locations in Canada and Mexico.

Inspired by the Rio Grande Valley’s vibrant cuisine, the couple seeks to add their own touch to the local menu by infusing it with the savory delights of Teriyaki Madness. The restaurant is known for its flavorful and customizable teriyaki bowls.

“The motivation (to launch the franchise) was allowing me the freedom to control my schedule and brings something I like to our Rio Grande Valley community,” Valerie said.

“This is important. I look forward to flexibility in my schedule.”

The couple are determined to impact the community positively. They envision fostering professional growth for their employees and empowering them to thrive in their careers.

“We plan on hiring between 18 and 20 employees. We plan on paying above average to retain our employees,” Abe explained. “We hope to create jobs that allow for upward growth through Teriyaki Madness and personal mentorship.”

They knew that opting for a franchise would provide them with the guidance and training to make their endeavor successful. They also saw it as an opportunity to learn, grow, and thrive together as a team.

“Many other franchises left me with questions, but Teriyaki Madness had the requirements we wanted in a franchise,” Abe said.

“They offer a great product and business model for the post-COVID-19 generation, from a small building footprint to smart apps that deliver efficiencies in the ordering and delivering process.”

As they venture into this new chapter of their lives, Abe and Valerie encourage anyone interested in owning a business to take that leap of faith.

“It is a scary thought of doing something totally out of your realm. I say think about it and pray about it, and if you decide to take the challenge, go for it,” Valerie advised, adding that partnering with people who can help is essential.

The couple have relied on business mentors and have asked questions, researched, and taken what they’ve learned and applied it to their business journey.

“A business is like an organ in your body. It’s essential for survival and reacts to illness within. Every employee and customer is essential to our economy and will be treated that way,” Abe said.

“To the Rio Grande Valley, may you be our customer.”


Selene Guerrero