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Rudy's Turns to Rio: New Concept, Partnership

The famous Mexican restaurant in Grayslake begins a new journey with a new partner, new menu, new look and a great attitude.

For almost seven years of Grayslake has served as the comfortable, friendly place to get your favorite Mexican cuisine. Owner Rudy Garza opened the shop in December of 2005 and has worked tirelessly as owner, manager and chef, greeting customers and making great food.

"I'm here all day open to close and it's a lot. I work a lot," Garza said with a smile remembering the blood, sweat and tears he's poured into the establishment. Garza opened the restaurant on a dream, and learned much of his culinary traits on-the-job.  

Garza said he's had ups and downs, surviving the economy's highs and lows. And while business has been great, he said it was beginning to be too much. "I was looking for a partner. I needed help."

Enter Alvaro Chavez. Over the course of several years Garza and Chavez, an experienced chef, had crossed paths. One particular time Chavez, of Mundelein, had been to Rudy's and noticed a bottle of Don Modesto tequila at the bar.

"I knew that tequila and I knew the distributor. It's a small company and you don't see it often, but Rudy had it here," Chavez recalls. Over time the two connected on facebook and became fast friends.

When an opportunity opened for Chavez to leave his current restaurant  he decided to partner with Garza for the new Rio Tequila Bar and Tex-Mex Cuisine.

Rudy's Mexican Grill will close the first week of September to undergo a complete overhaul including paint, chairs, decor and a new menu. The concept is geared towards comfortable with a new attitude and new energy, Garza said. 

"It's going to be clean and crisp. We want to have a great, smaller menu that people can come in and enjoy fresh food and be comfortable," said Chavez. The pair hope to eventually utilize local farmers for their produce for the new menu, which is a collaboration of the two chefs.

"It's some of the old dishes from Rudy's with an added flair from Alvaro," Garza said. Chavez will also add new signature dishes including hipotle sea scallops, Rio-spice rubbed tilapia and chorizo fundido.

"We're excited and happy. We have the confidence that our food will be just as great, even better," Garza said grinning ear to ear. "I still can't believe it."

A New Concept with a New Chef

Alvaro Chavez comes to Rio with 24 years of experience in the kitchen. He started as a dishwasher at Carlos Nieto in Highland Park. He moved up the ranks to prep cook, line cook and eventually head chef. His resume includes years of on-the-job training at La Foret and South Gate Cafe in Lake Forest and Noodles Cafe in Glenview. He helped start up the Depot Nuevo in Wilmette with the concept of melding Latin American sights and flavors. 

Most recently Chavez has worked at Masa Azul in Logan Square. Chavez has cooked for the Chicago Botanical Gardens for the past eight years representing different restaurants.

"He's such a great chef, his experience is awesome and I am just so excited about this," said Garza of his new partner.

The duo are expecting Rio to be a hit, and with the comaraderie and excitement between the two, they are confident they can open additional locations in the coming years. This is an investment in Grayslake and the community, Chavez told Patch.

"To have a restaurant in the town near you live is a huge benefit," said Chavez. "You get involved in the community, you care about what's going on. This is a great town with so much potential for us to do great and to have great friends. You don't get that in the city."

Rudy's Mexican Grill will close September 1st through the 7th for remodeling, then open under the new name Rio Tequila Bar and Tex-Mex Cuisine.

GW August 17, 2012 at 11:51 AM
Love Rudy's! Can't wait to experience the new Rio Tequila Bar.
Jeff August 17, 2012 at 01:34 PM
Best of luck in the new beginning!
Le Avion August 17, 2012 at 01:43 PM
Really dislike Rudy's since he didn't honor a coupon which I paid for. Will never go to Rudy's again or any of its incarnations.
lori walker August 17, 2012 at 03:18 PM
good luck rudy! can't wait to see the different restaurant!
kathleen August 17, 2012 at 05:20 PM
I kinda like it the way it is. Hoping for success, because I like Rudy.
Brad Faxton August 17, 2012 at 06:36 PM
Awwww - tried to use a photocopied expired coupon. Eh?
Theresa Webb Gonzalez August 17, 2012 at 11:52 PM
Best of luck to you both...it's going to be GREAT!!!! Proud to call you both my friends...SALUD Amigos!!!!
CG August 18, 2012 at 03:13 AM
I wish RioTequila Bar the very best!!! Loved Rudy's & I'll look forward to the new restaurant!!!
Marcia Ketterman August 18, 2012 at 09:04 PM
We have enjoyed Rudy's, always great food and service. But change is fun too, and this sounds like it is only going to be even better! I wish you all the best Rudy, you have earned it!
Le Avion August 23, 2012 at 01:02 AM
Sorry guys, not an expired coupon nor a photocopied one. It was purchased through the Daily Herald deals and the DH tried for a long time to get him to accept the coupon and he refused even though he got the money. My next step is to file a complaint to the attorney general of Illinois for fraud.
Mary Rybacki November 10, 2012 at 09:30 PM
Rio is amazing! My hsaband and I went to a tequila dinner their for Amate Tequila. The food was fantastic and the drinks were great. We will be coming back often. The owners were very hospitable and really cared about the food and drinks. Check out the new menu and Amate Tequila! Good Luck!

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