- Associated Press - Wednesday, January 27, 2016

GALESBURG, Ill. (AP) - Across from Moon Towers, a small shop with a Quick Sam’s sign serves some of the best Mexican food in Galesburg.

The shop at 164 S. Academy St., which is actually a restaurant named El Jarochito, has been growing since it opened in 2011, and it’s owners hope to expand soon.

As for the sign, co-owner José Hernandez said they’ve been trying to get it taken down.

El Jarochito “They keep telling us, ‘We’ll be there tomorrow,’ and they never come,” Hernandez said, with the help of Knox student Grecia Treviño, who translated from Spanish while the owners spoke. “We’ve been trying to change it since we opened.”

It’s unclear who is supposed to take down the sign, but the owners said that despite the sign, business has been growing and its customers know where to find it.

“We get a lot of customers that already know where it’s at, and they keep coming back,” co-owner Antonino Flores said.

“Mostly it’s a curiosity,” co-owner Rosa Moreno said. “They see the sign outside and once they come in, they realize it’s completely different.”

El Jarochito is fairly small, with only three booths and five two-person tables, so to help it grow, the owners want to make the existing building bigger by adding about 30 feet to the back of it. Hernandez said they have the permit to do so, but are working on funding.

The owners used to work at Jalisco Mexican Restaurant, 2105 E. Main St., but wanted to open their own business.

El Jarochito began as a shop on South Chambers Street that sold a variety of products, but their customers began asking them to do the cooking. After about six months, they decided to buy their current building across from Moon Towers.

When it opened there, they began serving food as well as selling groceries and other products. El Jarochito still sells some groceries that are hard to find elsewhere, like the yellow corn tortillas, Flores said.

But the restaurant has become the primary source of business, and it has developed a loyal customer base.

“We’ve been growing. We’ve been getting more and more customers, so it’s a location that has been working,” Flores said.

With El Jarochito so close to Knox College, many of its customers are Knox students, so when they are on break, El Jarochito sees a noticeable but manageable dip in sales, Hernandez said.

Among its fans, El Jarochito is often praised for its authenticity.

“Our food is more like family food, something you can find at home, rather than something that is commercialized,” Hernandez said.

El Jarochito has only five employees, and Hernandez said the crew’s small size helps ensure high-quality food.

“I know what I like our food to taste like. I know how much salt and other things to put in there,” Hernandez said. “But when you start adding other people, you can teach them how to do it, but it doesn’t mean they’re going to do it the same as you.”

While Hernandez isn’t the only cook at El Jarochito, he said it took years for him to trust the other cooks to leave them alone in the kitchen.

“And I only do that when I need a day off,” Hernandez said. “I had to make sure they know how I like it done. It’s not something that just anyone can do the first day they’re put in the kitchen.

As El Jarochito prepares to expand, Hernandez wants to continue cooking.

“I love cooking, that’s what drives the business, the fact that I get to be in the kitchen.”


Source: The (Galesburg) Register-Mail, https://bit.ly/1OLMqKM


Information from: The Register-Mail, https://www.register-mail.com

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