Family restaurant booming in downtown Rockford

Cinco de Mayo shows off fresh flavor, eye appeal at grand opening

Cinco de Mayo restaurant owner Marco Cuellar was looking for a location to open a restaurant in the Rockford area. Meanwhile, building owner Tom Cronkright was doing his own due diligence to find a suitable tenant for his Courtland Street property.

Cinco de Mayo owner Marco Cuellar with his family, wife Maricela, son Alan, 3 and daughter Aidee, 7, at the Rockford restaurant Wednesday, April 21.

“I left information at three of his other restaurants, and that’s how he found out about this building,” said Cronkright during a grand opening event Wednesday, April 21. “We were looking for something in the area, that’s how I found it,” said Cuellar. The restauranteur couldn’t be happier about the success of his Rockford dining establishment, open at 123 Courtland. The business began operations October 5, 2009, but held a formal grand opening April 21 to thank special guests, including contractors and brokers who helped the business prepare for opening and city officials and council members. The restaurant’s liquor license was recently granted and cold beer; margaritas and other specialty drinks were available for the event, in addition to the extensive menu options.

HOT STUFF—Brien Dews, Rockford City Council member and building owner Tom Cronkright, along with his wife Julie, owner of Jade, munch on jalapeno peppers, chips and salsa as a starter before dining at Cinco de Mayo.

Among attendees to the free event were council member Brien Dews and building owner Tom Cronkright along with his wife Julie. All three said they eat at the restaurant often and note that business has been brisk. The brightly decorated interior with upstairs patio seating can accommodate over 140 diners. On that Wednesday the restaurant was largely full and Cronkright said business is even better on prime dining nights.

Cuellar said his father-in-law started the chain, and there are 13 Cinco de Mayo restaurants in Michigan and another five out of state. He accredits the company’s success with serving authentic, fresh Mexican food.

“We work daily. We don’t prepare any food ahead of time,” Cuellar said. Dews said the flavor of authentic prepared food is obvious, from the “secret recipe” salsa to the entrees. With a building full of guests, friends and family around him, Cuellar said he loves his business. “I like to be busy,” he laughed. “It’s part of the life.”

Cinco de Mayo offers daily drink specials, including over ten different margaritas and 20 kinds of tequila in addition to wines, beers and other mixed drinks. There are daily lunch and dinner specials as well. For reservations call (616) 866-3438. The restaurant is open seven days a week, Monday through Thursday 11 a.m. to 9:30 p.m., Friday 11 a.m. to 10:30 p.m., Saturday 11:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. and Sunday 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m.

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