Luis and Francesca Casas wanted to bring traditional Mexican food to a small farming community. With it being a short drive from many larger towns, they knew that they could create a popular destination for a unique experience and great food.
Challenge: The Casas first contacted the SBDC in April 2021. They needed a sound business plan to confirm their dream of creating a fun-themed counter service grill was feasible. They also needed information on applying for a business loan.
How Illinois SBDC helped: From the beginning, the Casas worked with Business Advisor Pam Clodfelter. Pam provided information on registering their business with the state and resources such as templates, market research, and explanations of available loans. The Casas developed their business plan using an online template where Pam could offer advice efficiently and timely. Pam also shared creative options for them to find customers and “followers” while dealing with construction challenges and supply issues.
Result: In 2022, Luchadores Mexican Grill started as a “Pop-up” food shop utilizing a tent and eventually a food trailer at various events and farmers’ markets throughout the Sauk Valley area. When not at events, they continued to gather needed equipment, meet with contractors and plan for the opening of their grill’s permanent location. They established a loyal following by being visible in the community and serving delicious food. This also led to catering opportunities.
In May 2023, the grill officially opened in Harmon, IL, strategically located next to a bar. The Casas created a grand opening event that fit their Mexican Wrestling themed restaurant with SCW wrestlers and some of their food truck “friends” providing additional food and treats. This is a small business supporting other small businesses! They also gave a very generous shout-out to the SBDC. “Today, we… thank the [SBDC] at Sauk Valley Community College and Pamela Clodfelter. Together we have been actively working on our business plan since it was just a wishful dream in our hearts for over two years! Thank you…for years of free advice, dealing with our busy schedules and rescheduling virtual meetings. [The center] is a true friend to family-based start-ups and small business entrepreneurs.”
Learn More: To learn more about Luchadores Mexican Grill, find them on Facebook or visit them at 201 S 2nd St, Harmon, IL 61042.