BRADLEY — When Adriana Zamudio was a college student in Mexico, in one of her marketing classes, she was asked to design a business plan.
Eighteen years old at the time, she thought about the assignment and decided to develop a restaurant.
“Now it’s becoming real. This is mine,” she said of the former Gravina 801 Cuisine restaurant at 801 W. Broadway St., Bradley. The space was also the longtime home of the Italian eatery La Villeta Restaurant.
Zamudio, now of St. Anne, had designed a restaurant so similar to this location that once she saw it, she knew she had found the right spot.
Zamudio, 40, and her husband-and-wife business partners, Humberto Higuera and Andrea Ibarra, of Kankakee, are about a month away from opening Mi Casa on Broadway.
Translated, Mi Casa means “my house.”
If that Mi Casa name sounds familiar, you are correct. Mi Casa Mexican Restaurant opened about four years ago at 481 S. Main St., Bourbonnais, only a short distance from Olivet Nazarene University. It is operated by Higuera and Ibarra, and Zamudio may soon become a business partner of theirs at that site as well.
The goal is to have the Mi Casa on Broadway establishment opened by early to mid-June.
The approximate 90-seat restaurant is undergoing significant interior upgrades presently and some exterior upgrades are also being planned prior to opening.
The site has been vacant for about three years, but it is now a beehive of activity as construction workers busily work to get the property up to the standards of the new operators.
Born in Joliet, Zamudio and her family relocated to Mexico when she was only a few months of age as her father had business opportunities. She returned to the Joliet area about 10 years ago.
Several months ago, she began pouring her thoughts and energies into establishing a restaurant. She was introduced to Ibarra and they began formulating their plans.
Asked if this was the best time to open a restaurant considering the impact the COVID-19 pandemic has had on businesses, in particular restaurants, the women said they believe this will be a great time to open a new location.
“People are so ready to go out and get back to normal,” Ibarra said. In fact, she said, the Mi Casa restaurant on Main Street — which offers carry-out — has done a great business this past year.
“This past year has been our best year,” she said. “People are ready to get out.”
The Kankakee County region is home to many Mexican-style restaurants, but the trio notes this location will be somewhat more upscale. They note that while the location will of course offer casual-style dining, they will be offering many dishes which are not available in local restaurants.
The menu is still being finalized.
“We will certainly offer traditional Mexican dishes, Tex-Mex dishes,” Zamudio said. She noted they will also offer seafood dishes with either Nayarit-style seasoning [spicy] or Michoacan-style [more garlicky with tomato].
They are also planning traditional American foods, meaning beef and chicken.
“We will set ourselves apart from the many Mexican restaurants in the area,” she said. “Our customers won’t see the sombreros or peppers hanging around.”
The restaurant is slated for eight to 10 workers. It will be open from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Thursday; 11 a.m. to 1 a.m. Friday and Saturday; and noon to 8 p.m. Sunday.
“We will have the best margaritas in town and the best sangria,” Zamudio boasted.
The owners did not want to rush to open the location and have been careful to give themselves time to get every detail in order.
“First impressions are so critical,” Zamudio said. “The first impression we want for them will be casual, but with a touch of modern. ... We’re very picky about how the place will be. This must be right. We want quality. People have to come in and be impressed.
“We will offer quality service, quality food and nice ambience. We do that and we will have quality customers,” Zamudio said.
But will the Broadway restaurant impact the Main Street location, the business owners were asked.
They do not believe so. The Main Street location is more of food-to-go, while the Broadway location will focus on more unique dishes as well as a unique dining experience.