Primos Bar and Grill – Rochester

Family Flavor

Cousins Launch Primos Bar and Grill

Writer / Lois Tomaszewski
Photographer / Jubilee Edgell

PrimosFrom selling hamburgers outside their apartment’s back door in Indianapolis while in college, to becoming the owners of a restaurant in Rochester, the culinary journey of cousins Alex and Enrique Martinez is a boon for local foodies.  

Primos Bar and Grill opened one year ago in a restaurant space previously occupied by the parents of one of the cousin’s best friends. The name of the business was a natural for them – “primo” means “cousin” in Spanish.

Alex studied business and management. His parents ran a restaurant and his father is self-employed. He says he knew he wanted to work for himself because of that.

Enrique gained experience in food service while working his way through college in Indianapolis. He started as a busser and became a sous-chef. 

“We had the idea of opening a restaurant in 2016,” Alex says. “We wanted to do our own thing.”

What these 26-year-old cousins have created is a fresh take on the flavors of their heritage, mixed with traditional menu items like wedge salads, burgers and margaritas. The difference is the flavor profiles that elevate classic foods with a modern twist.


During the first few months of operation, the menu was simple. Alex and Enrique say they did not know what to expect. Neither had operated their own restaurant before and this was new ground, especially in Rochester – a new hometown for both. 

Enrique says their formula for a successful restaurant includes a couple of key elements – make good food, don’t cut corners and keep everything fresh. Meat for their tacos and smash burgers is ground on-site. Sauces that flavor various dishes are made from scratch. Even the lime juice in the cocktails is squeezed fresh.  

There is a variety of smoked meats – a favorite preparation technique for Enrique – and an old-fashioned cocktail called Smoke on the Water.

He is also a fan of Food Network’s “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives” hosted by Guy Fieri. Enrique would not mind if Fieri came through the door to feature Primos on his show, he says. The vibe of modernizing classic dishes is exactly the kind of vibe Alex and Enrique envision for Primos.

Earlier this year the menu doubled in size. Primos added two salad options, a couple more appetizers, more sandwich and burger selections, as well as tacos and soups. The restaurant also offers gluten-free options for many menu items – about 80% according to Enrique.

One new taco selection is the birria taco, a dish that has become popular across the country. It is stewed meat cooked in a sauce that gives it a reddish hue. Served with a crispy shell and a flavorful sauce, it is very popular and trendy. The Primos version is made with braised chuck, Chihuahua cheese, onions, cilantro and a consommé.

PrimosSmash burgers are popular enough to have their own section on the menu. Primos offers 10 different smash burger options. The smash burger is simply ground meat that is rolled into a ball and then smashed on a flat-iron grill. It creates a crispy texture on the meat patty, and reminds diners of the old-fashioned hamburgers served at hamburger joints of the 1950s. 

Primos is designed to be a family-friendly place that has a fun atmosphere. It’s laid back but still has high energy.

“We are just guys who want to serve good food,” Alex says. 

Owning their own restaurant has checked boxes for the Martinez cousins. They enjoy what they do, but are also aware that it takes time to manage a business. It is their passion for this work that comes through in the drinks and dishes they place before their restaurant guests, and the service their staff provides.

Primos is located at 721 Main Street in Rochester. Online ordering is available at Find them on social media @primosonmain. For more information, call 574-223-3514.

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