It took longer than she expected, but Amy Montiel is ready to reopen a former downtown restaurant as Catrinas Mex.
Opening day is Monday, said Montiel, one of several restaurant owners who has been making plans, most of them converting old places into new restaurants.
The Keg, a pizza restaurant and tavern, was a downtown standby for decades after opening in 1964. But it had been closed for several years before Montiel and her family took on the restoration.
Originally planning to open in May, Montiel said the project took longer than expected because of the work needed to get the old building into shape.
Catrinas Mex signs went up Wednesday, and a menu with authentic Mexican food such as mole sauces with seven kinds of chili peppers, albondigas (Mexican meatballs) and other items is ready.
Montiel is counting on old Keg patrons to check out the place and the new decor.
“It’s going to be different,” she said. “But I hope people remember the location (20 W. Jackson St.) and may be curious to see the new place and eat Mexican food.”
It has taken Dillon Kim longer, too, than he expected to open K Ribs & BBQ.
“We’re almost done,” said Kim, who is trying to open before the end of September.
One thing Kim may have going for him is that potential customers appear to be impatient for Korean-style barbecue.
“Everybody’s in my face,” he said. “They ask me when. They say it takes too long. Sorry for them that it takes too long, but we changed the concept over and over.”
Kim said he and his family want to get it right. They have changed plans for the interior design a few times.
“We are very serious,” Kim said. “That’s why three or four times we were changing. It’s a long-term commitment.”
In addition to Korean-style ribs, the Kims plan to have 10 or 12 side dishes, including bibimbap – a Korean-style rice mixed with vegetables, meat or an egg.
Kim, an insurance agent who has an American Family Insurance office next to the restaurant, owns the building at 221 N. Chicago St.
Spiro Douvris, founder of the Beef Shack restaurants, has done this a few times before.
The Joliet restaurant now under construction will be the fourth Beef Shack when it opens in six weeks, Douvris said. The first opened in 2011 in St. Charles, and others are in Elgin and DeKalb.
Three more are on the way in Yorkville, Huntley and Bartlett, Douvris said. He expects many more because of a partnership with Rosati’s Pizza, which will franchise Beef Shack.
“We specialize in six items, and we do six items great,” Douvris said. “Our specialty is a cheesy beef on garlic. We’ve sold 15 million of those.”
Douvris sold the cheesy beef sandwich at another St. Charles restaurant he ran before opening the Beef Shack.
The Joliet location, 1606 W. Jefferson St., is an old Taco Bell that sat empty for years.
It’s one of three fast-food restaurants planned for Jefferson Street but the only one under construction. Others are Nick’s Gyros at 1350 W. Jefferson St. and a Buona Beef planned for an open lot at Springfield Avenue.