CAMPTON HILLS – A St. Charles resident who has worked in the restaurant industry for 20 years is preparing to open a place of his own this month in Campton Hills.
Jose Quintero said he had been thinking about opening a restaurant for a while, when an opportunity to start one across from Village Hall arose in early fall.
“That was my chance,” he said. “We came to an agreement, and here I am, trying to open.”
Named after one of his 31⁄2-year-old twin daughters – Quintero joked he has to rush to open another restaurant for the other twin – Lupita’s Cocina occupies 40W222 LaFox Road just south of Route 64. Former occupants include short-lived Burrito Stop, Jalapeno Nacho and a coffeehouse.
“I love my location,” Quintero said, noting the lack of Mexican restaurants nearby.
Since October, Quintero has been transforming the small space into a sit-down restaurant. Changes include halving the office space to make room for a bar, redoing the counter around the kitchen and installing proper kitchen equipment, he said, noting the space didn’t even have a gas pipes when he moved in.
Outdoor seating is planned for the summer. Looking outside, Quintero noted how the seating will be in the shade later in the day.
“This is going to be perfect,” he said.
Quintero expects to be part of the kitchen crew, who will work off a menu developed by Mario Cruz. Dishes include tacos, enchiladas and fajitas featuring such ingredients, as wood-grilled skirt steak, wood-grilled chicken breast, wood-grilled shrimp, slow-roasted pork belly and various vegetables and salsas. A children’s menu also is offered.
Meals will be made to order. In the summer, the restaurant intends to buy ingredients, especially vegetables, from local farmers markets, Quintero said.
“We want to try to keep it fresh,” he said.
Quintero is excited and nervous about opening Lupita’s Cocina, he said. He worries about not getting enough business, he said, but he is comforted by the number of people – such as the nearby office workers – who have asked when the restaurant will open.
Quintero hopes to open this month, he said, adding he planned to meet with employees this week.