Less than a year after opening their “Mexican ghost kitchen” filling delivery orders through smartphone apps and building a catering clientele, Taco Hero owners Roger Diaz and Jorge Cuadra, will soon debut a bricks-and-mortar business in Brookfield.
Diaz told the Landmark in a phone interview last week that he and Cuadra hoped to open the doors to Taco Hero, 8420 Brookfield Ave., in April. The dining room will be open for eat-in and carryout service. The menu is still being finalized.
Meanwhile, Taco Hero has been operating as a straight catering operation since December after closing up their “ghost kitchen,” a rented commercial kitchen space in Chicago’s Avondale neighborhood, which they rented in July.
Taco Hero offered Mexican fare for delivery through smartphone apps like Grub Hub and Door Dash but steadily started leaning more heavily into catering. Through their website (mytacohero.com) there are $12 per person (chicken/pork) or $14 per person (steak/chicken/pork/seafood) catering options for groups of 20 or more.
“The business started at my house,” said Diaz, whose first catering customers were family members looking for Taco Hero to provide food for a graduation party. “The same day, five other catering orders came through and that’s when we decided to open the [commercial] ghost kitchen.”
While Diaz did not have a background in the food service industry – he left his corporate job of 14 years during COVID – but Cuadra did and both shared a love of food.
“He’s been in the restaurant business for 30-plus years,” Diaz said of Cuadra, whose father owned a restaurant for many years in the Archer Heights neighborhood of Chicago. “We just have a passion for cooking and we started putting ideas together.”
Taco Hero’s catering arm now has a handful of large corporate clients – including Diaz’s former employer, which has six locations that order food from the business.
Diaz said he and Cuadra signed the lease on the building at 8420 Brookfield Ave. in November, but the partners have plans to purchase the property, which is owned by a corporation called Prairie Grass 8420 LLC and was last sold in December 2003 for $425,000.
The desire to buy the property, said Diaz, shows they intend to stick around, which would be welcome news for a building that has seen a parade of tenants and long periods of vacancy in the past 20 years.
From 2003-06, the building was home to The Paw/Cyberdog Café, a Riverside-Brookfield High School special education initiative. From 2008-12, a bar called The Station and a restaurant named Mind Your Own Business occupied the space.
After lying vacant for two years, a train-themed family eatery called The Blue Caboose opened in September 2014 before closing six months later. The space was most recently occupied by a coffee shop/bakery called Café Tere, which rented the space in late 2018 but did not open its doors to the public until November 2020. It closed last September.