'We're Almost There': New Mexican Spot Close To Opening, Hiring Now

NEW LENOX, IL — A new addition to the New Lenox restaurant scene is clearing its final hurdles and expects to open in early-August—but first, they need the staff.

Don Jose’s Cantina and Taqueria, the sit-down Mexican restaurant that has replaced Chicago Dough Company, is weeks away from opening and will host open interviews for all positions next week, said Anthony Nardo, one of the partners behind the concept.

Opening at 1080 E. Lincoln Highway, Don Jose’s is brought to fruition by Joey’s Red Hots owner Nardo, with longtime friends Nick Iozzo of Mokena—Nardo’s partner in Joey’s—and brothers Ryan and Chris Kucala of Frankfort.

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“This is a place we want everyone to feel comfortable coming to with family, or on a date night—whatever the scenario may be,” Nardo previously told Patch.

They’re trying to keep the interior under wraps until closer to opening, Nardo said, but customers can expect a blend of modern styles with classic cantina.

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“Modern meets old-style cantina,” Nardo told Patch.

Designed by Executive Chef Britt Arlen, the menu “blends traditional Mexican cuisine with contemporary flair, offering a dining experience that pays homage to its roots while embracing global influences,” Nardo described.

Traditional dishes like birria, barbacoa and tacos al pastor, enhanced with creative twists such as tuna tartare in kiwi-celery aguachile—a spicy, cold Mexican dish of raw seafood cured in a citrusy, acidic bath, and typically served with cucumber, red onion, and avocado—and a nuanced take on Caesar Salad, Nardo described.

The menu “is a vibrant celebration of cultural diversity, where every meal tells a story of culinary innovation and tradition.”

“It’s something new, it’s fresh,” Nardo said. “It’s all high-quality food. Fresh produce, fresh poultry, steak.”

The restaurant will also feature a full-service bar including handmade margaritas and a selection of different tequilas.

It’s fitting that New Lenox native and current resident Nardo is moving into the space. The Providence Catholic High School graduate also owns and operates a Joey’s location in New Lenox, and recently opened another in Orland Hills.

Don Jose’s is a project special to he and his partners, he said.

“The opportunity presented itself to us, and it’s something we’ve been wanting to do the last couple years,” Nardo told Patch previously. “I feel the area is growing, a lot of people moving here. Tim Baldermann’s doing a great job bringing in a lot of new businesses in the area. It’s developing, and I feel like it lacks restaurants.

“There’s not a lot of choices—everyone jokes on social media about the chicken places. But they all do business, and they’re all good for New Lenox. I feel we do lack Mexican restaurant choices.

“It’s one of our favorite foods. … it’s going to be something very special to us.”

Open interviews will be held Monday, July 8 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., and Tuesday, July 9 from 5:30 to 8 p.m. Openings include: hostess, front-of-house managers, bartenders, servers, bussers, bar backs, line cooks, and dishwashers. No appointment needed to interview; walk-ins welcome, Nardo said.

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