Beaches, Bars, Socials, Events and More!

The BEST Gay News in Chicago

 

El Mariachi & Revolucion Owner Passes

Chicago lost a great business man recently, Antonio Estrada, founder of  El Mariachi and Revolucion restaurants.

1996. On a quiet section of North Broadway in Chicago, Antonio Estrada opened a cozy, 10-table Mexican restaurant he called El Mariachi. It was, he admits, a risk: the area, several blocks from Wrigley Field in East Lakeview, was then a not-so-nice section of the city.

“The neighborhood wasn’t yet gentrified…three years after I opened, they found dead bodies in a nearby hotel!” Estrada once told me.

Mexican food is a staple in most communities today. But back in 1996, the cuisine was in its infancy in the United States—even in a food-savvy town like Chicago. At first,  customers didn’t really comprehend what El Mariachi’s concept—fresh, authentic Mexican food that went beyond tacos and burritos—was all about.

Times have certainly changed—and so has the Estrada family’s business, now comprised of three restaurants under the Mariachi Hospitality Group banner.

Anchored by the flagship El Mariachi Restaurant, still in the original small storefront, the enterprise also includes El Mariachi Tequila Bar & Grill and Revolución Mexican Steakhouse—all within a five-block stretch of North Broadway populated by restaurants, bars, boutiques and upscale grocery stores.

 

A native of San Juan Jalisco, near Guadalajara, Antonio Estrada emigrated to the U.S. in 1969. Then just 15 years old, with no restaurant experience under his belt, he landed a part-time job as a bus boy, and then server, at Chicago’s M&M Club. He moved on to the Hilton Hotel, where he was a member of the dining room staff for 20 years. Then, he decided, it was time to venture out on his own with El Mariachi.

“I had to learn to cook—but that was pretty easy for me,” Antonio recalls. The formula was fairly simple: he made recipes; the ones he liked became part of the menu.

Antonio built a reputation for serving authentic Mexican dishes including but not limited to tacos—offerings like carne asada suiza and grilled chicken breast dressed in mole poblano—all presented in a warm, intimate setting where high-quality ingredients and friendly, personal service proved a formula for success.

That formula is at the heart of all  Mariachi Hospitality Group operates today.

His sons Jorge (Tony) and Adrian, who were raised in Lakeview and grew up in the business, are key figures in the family enterprise.  “How long have I worked in the restaurants? All my life,” Tony laughs. “I was 11 when I was officially added to the schedule.” – and the brothers have been working in the business ever since!

Antonio Estrada was a hard working  man and his businesses have made a great impact in Lakeview. He always made time to spend with his family.  He always had a smile on his face whenever I saw him! His  favorite quote was, “Success isn’t just about what you accomplish in your life it’s about what you INSPIRE others to do.”

He will be greatly missed.

Thanks to writer Kathleen Furore. Her full article can be seen here.

* When El Maricahi Tequila Bar & Restaurant opened in 2004, the painters put an image of Antonio in the ceiling, by the bar, shining down thru the clouds. Next time you stop by, have a Margarita  and  Salute this awesome man!

Share