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'Hispanic-Owned Peoria' campaign aims to boost 24 businesses in Peoria area

jalapenos discover peoria hispanic.jpg
Hannah Alani
Casa de Arte, 1227 SW Adams St., in Peoria.

The Peoria Area Convention and Visitors Bureau is launching a campaign to boost the area's growing number of Hispanic business owners.

Hispanic-Owned Peoria will feature 24 different Peoria businesses varying from restaurants to salons to shops.

Alicia Calderon is the community engagement coordinator for the bureau, which also goes by the name of Discover Peoria. In preparation to launch this campaign, Calderon interviewed participating business owners.

"I am so happy and so proud of our Hispanic roots here in Peoria," she said. "The need that we have as a community is being met by our own people. And those businesses are not stopping today, tomorrow. They keep growing."

Cesar Vargas / PROVIDED
Casa de Arte, 1227 SW Adams St., in Peoria will host the 2021 Latin Fest on Saturday, Oct. 16.

Hispanic-Owned Peoria is modeled after Black-Owned Peoria, a similar campaign launched at the start of 2020.

That campaign helped promote and advertise Black-owned businesses during a year when many business owners couldn't keep marketing costs in their budgets, Discover Peoria president/CEO J.D. Dalfonso said.

"We knew there was a great opportunity to tap into a community that has so much vibrancy embedded in our area," he said, adding that the Hispanic community comprises 6.3 percent of Peoria's city population.

The 24 business featured owners have moved to the area from various places, including Puerto Rico, Mexico, El Salvador and Colombia, Calderon said.

Jose Leon opened Jalapeños in Metro Center 23 years ago. He said that although all businesses took a hit during the COVID-19 pandemic, Peorians really stepped up to support his restaurant.

"We had a rough two years, through the COVID," he said. "But ... we've probably been the busiest ever in the last 2 years, since we moved to Peoria."

jose leon jalapenos.jpg
Hannah Alani
Jalapeños owner Jose Leon speaking inside his restaurant on Tuesday, Nov. 2, 2021.

Rogelio Retugin moved to Peoria when he was 11 years old from Michoacán, a state in south-central Mexico. Now 29, Retugin runs Armani's Towing. About three months ago he opened a second business, Rising Tide Station, a supply store along the Illinois River in East Peoria. He says the Peoria area is a great place to run a business.

"It's relaxed," he said. "The people [are] really good right here. This is why I like it over here."

The store sells camping gear, fishing poles — even paintball guns. Retugin says he loves playing paintball and was passionate about opening a store.

"Paintball is not here, they don't have a store right here in Peoria," he said. "It's fun. ... You run a lot. ... Thank you Peoria for supporting me."

For more information on the campaign and to read in-depth interviews with four of the business owners, visit Discover Peoria's website.

Here's a list of participating businesses:

  • 8A's Auto Sales and Full Service, 923 N. Garfield Ave.; owned by Pedro Ochoa.
  • Anay's Salon, 2200 W. War Memorial Dr.; owned by Elena Concileon.
  • Blue Margaritas Bar & Grill, Peoria and Washington locations; co-owned by Esteban Pascual and Ricardo Martinez
  • Cafe Santa Rosa, 5901 N. Prospect Rd. Suite 7; co-owned by Heber and Marta Vidal
  • Casa de Arte Gallery & Lounge, 1227 SW Adams St.; co-owned by Arturo and Carla Zamora Vargas
  • Catrinas Express, 401 SW Water St.; owned by Antonio Alarcon
  • El Molcajete, Chillicothe; co-owned by Esteban Pascual and Ricardo Martinez
  • El Taco Loco, 4325 N. Sheridan Rd.; owned by Gilberto Fuentes
  • Good Tequilas Mexican Grill, Peoria, Pekin and Bartonville locations; co-owned by Juan Barragan and Liliana Macias
  • Hacienda Cantina & Grill, Pekin; co-owned by Gilberto, Victor and Jaime Fuentes
  • Hacienda El Mirador, 5805 N. Humboldt Ave.; owned by Julia Salvatierra Roca
  • Jalapeños, 4700 N. University St.; co-owned by Jose and Nora Leon
  • Miranda's Bella Boutique, 3113 N. Prospect Rd.; owned by Maria del Rosario Miranda
  • Panaderia Ortiz, 1404 NE Monroe St.; co-owned by Benardo and Maria Ortiz
  • Rising Tide Station, East Peoria; owned by Rogelio Retugin
  • Rudy's Mexican Cantina & Grill, 3311 N. Sterling Ave. Suite 20; co-owned by Rodolfo and Leonora Guzman
  • SimplyFit 4U, 841 E. Main St. Suite B; co-owned by Angel and Maria Caballero
  • Succulent Natural Skincare, 923 N. Sheridan Rd. Suite 3B; owned by Xochitl Stafford
  • Tequila's Mexican Bar & Grill, East Peoria; owned by Hector Munoz
  • Yeni's Palarte, 4700 N. University St.; co-owned by Yeni Rodriguez and Chris McCall
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