For almost seven years of Grayslake has served as the comfortable, friendly place to get your favorite Mexican cuisine. Owner Rudy Garza opened the shop in December of 2005 and has worked tirelessly as owner, manager and chef, greeting customers and making great food.
"I'm here all day open to close and it's a lot. I work a lot," Garza said with a smile remembering the blood, sweat and tears he's poured into the establishment. Garza opened the restaurant on a dream, and learned much of his culinary traits on-the-job.
Garza said he's had ups and downs, surviving the economy's highs and lows. And while business has been great, he said it was beginning to be too much. "I was looking for a partner. I needed help."
Enter Alvaro Chavez. Over the course of several years Garza and Chavez, an experienced chef, had crossed paths. One particular time Chavez, of Mundelein, had been to Rudy's and noticed a bottle of Don Modesto tequila at the bar.
"I knew that tequila and I knew the distributor. It's a small company and you don't see it often, but Rudy had it here," Chavez recalls. Over time the two connected on facebook and became fast friends.
When an opportunity opened for Chavez to leave his current restaurant he decided to partner with Garza for the new Rio Tequila Bar and Tex-Mex Cuisine.
Rudy's Mexican Grill will close the first week of September to undergo a complete overhaul including paint, chairs, decor and a new menu. The concept is geared towards comfortable with a new attitude and new energy, Garza said.
"It's going to be clean and crisp. We want to have a great, smaller menu that people can come in and enjoy fresh food and be comfortable," said Chavez. The pair hope to eventually utilize local farmers for their produce for the new menu, which is a collaboration of the two chefs.
"It's some of the old dishes from Rudy's with an added flair from Alvaro," Garza said. Chavez will also add new signature dishes including hipotle sea scallops, Rio-spice rubbed tilapia and chorizo fundido.
"We're excited and happy. We have the confidence that our food will be just as great, even better," Garza said grinning ear to ear. "I still can't believe it."
A New Concept with a New Chef
Alvaro Chavez comes to Rio with 24 years of experience in the kitchen. He started as a dishwasher at Carlos Nieto in Highland Park. He moved up the ranks to prep cook, line cook and eventually head chef. His resume includes years of on-the-job training at La Foret and South Gate Cafe in Lake Forest and Noodles Cafe in Glenview. He helped start up the Depot Nuevo in Wilmette with the concept of melding Latin American sights and flavors.
Most recently Chavez has worked at Masa Azul in Logan Square. Chavez has cooked for the Chicago Botanical Gardens for the past eight years representing different restaurants.
"He's such a great chef, his experience is awesome and I am just so excited about this," said Garza of his new partner.
The duo are expecting Rio to be a hit, and with the comaraderie and excitement between the two, they are confident they can open additional locations in the coming years. This is an investment in Grayslake and the community, Chavez told Patch.
"To have a restaurant in the town near you live is a huge benefit," said Chavez. "You get involved in the community, you care about what's going on. This is a great town with so much potential for us to do great and to have great friends. You don't get that in the city."
Rudy's Mexican Grill will close September 1st through the 7th for remodeling, then open under the new name Rio Tequila Bar and Tex-Mex Cuisine.