PILSEN — That stunned-looking cow advertising margaritas on 18th street is just La Vaca co-owner Carmen Gutierrez’s plan to get the customers in.
The 26-year-old modeled the cow after the laughing fish sign at “El Barco,” her parent’s seafood restaurant in Wicker Park.
“We wanted a logo that kind of looked like that logo. It has the same circle crazy eyes and the same goofiness,” Gutierrez said.
The cow sign is just one of many changes at “La Vaca” (The Cow), a new concept for the old Cuernavaca, the traditional Mexican restaurant at 1160 W. 18th St. which was run by Gutierrez’s grandparents for over fifty years.
After her grandparents decided to retire this past year, Gutierrez and her brother and two cousins — all in their 20s — knew they couldn’t let the place go with them.
“I remember washing dishes when I was like ten at my grandparents’ restaurant,“ she said. “It was either we took it over or they were going to lose it.”
Aside from the crazy cow sign, the revamped La Vaca boasts a large outdoor patio, new margarita flavors and tacos with pork belly, grilled Mahi Mahi, and veggie options.
While walls were knocked down and menu items tweaked, the old neon “Cuernavaca” sign still hangs in the bar.
“If we would have lost the place, it would have been heart wrenching to have to pass it every day,” Gutierrez said. “We all grew up there. Our parents met there, I learned how to walk there.”