PILSEN — About a month after a fire decimated their 53-year-old restaurant Nuevo Leon, the Gutierrez family has rallied to open a new restaurant on 18th Street.
In the works for more than six years, owner Danny Gutierrez Jr. opened Cantón Regio, a Mexican steakhouse, at 1510 W. 18th St. across from Nuevo Leon Friday. The new restaurant takes over the former Nayarit nightclub space, a club his 69-year-old father Danny Gutierrez Sr. operated for 17 years in the building.
"It's very different from Nuevo Leon. I have customers from Nuevo Leon walking in wanting enchiladas, chilaquiles or nachos," said Gutierrez Jr., 44. "[But] this is a totally different menu."
Meat at Cantón Regio, including steaks ($18), skewers (three for $15) and rotisserie chicken (half-chicken $8), is grilled over open flames fueled with mesquite wood. The menu also features shredded dry beef scrambled with eggs and charo beans ($8), mollejas de res (charbroiled beef sweetbreads $10) and a number of traditional sides.
The new restaurant is modeled after the Gutierrez family's hometown, Sabinas Hidalgo, Nuevo León, in Mexico.
The Gutierrez family has collected items from Sabinas Hidalgo, Nuevo León, in Mexico to display in Cantón Regio on 18th Street. [DNAinfo/Stephanie Lulay]
While operating Nuevo Leon alongside his father, Gutierrez slowly collected items from Sabinas Hidalgo for display in the restaurant. But when Nuevo Leon was destroyed by a fire in December, Gutierrez Jr. felt an urgent need to get the new restaurant open.
"I couldn't stand seeing my dad not being himself," he said. "After 53 years in the business, he seemed a little lost at times."
On Tuesday, the father-son pair were working alongside each other, again, but in the new restaurant.
To date, Gutierrez has hired 20 of the 50-60 Nuevo Leon employees at his new restaurant. About 90 percent of the Nuevo Leon employees have been able to obtain employment.
"I'm very proud of my people," he said through tears. Until the restaurant is rebuilt, "we said, 'Go to work. Make us proud.'"
As of now, the Gutierrez family plans to rebuild a smaller Nuevo Leon restaurant at 1515 W. 18th St., which housed the original restaurant before it was expanded into a neighboring building in the late 1970s or early 1980s.
Citing massive damage, city inspectors are calling for the Nuevo Leon restaurant — which occupies two buildings on 18th Street — to be demolished, Gutierrez Jr. said. He is working with city officials to explore options that will preserve the original facade.
Cantón Regio is open 10 a.m.-10 p.m. Sunday-Thursday and 10 a.m.-Midnight Friday and Saturday.
Nuevo Leon owners Danny Gutierrez Sr. and Danny Gutierrez Jr. have opened Canton Regio, a new Mexican restaurant at 1510 W. 18th St. in Pilsen. [DNAinfo/Stephanie Lulay]
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