Since Alfredo and Enrique Melendez were children in Mexico, they dreamed of operating and owning a restaurant.
Shortly after the family moved to the United States, Alfredo began his career as a cook, learning everything he could about the restaurant business as a teen. By 1993, he and his brother opened their first restaurant in Amelia, Ohio.
Six restaurants later, the family recently celebrated the grand opening of Don Rigo Mexican Bar & Grill, named after their father, on 146th Street.
The Carmel location is the second Don Rigo. The first opened in Greenfield and has had consistent rave reviews.
The family patriarch never dreamed his sons would have such success.
“Our official ribbon cutting was held on March 20 and my grandfather came here from Mexico to celebrate,” says Adrian Melendez, Alfredo’s son. “Everyone was excited to see him and was asking for a picture with him. He’s very proud.”
The Melendez family did much of the work on Don Rigo themselves – a labor of love for the new location.
“We wanted to start something new, set apart from the other restaurants we have,” Melendez says. “It was important to make this a family experience, and my dad, uncles, sons and cousins came in and did a lot of the work with the help of close friends for design.”
The interior of the restaurant is meant to create an authentic feel, with light colors and classic decor. The smell of fresh tortillas baking and vegetables on the grill sets the mood.
Of course, for those wishing to stop by after work or enjoy a Friday date night, drinks include the Ultimate Margarita, house margaritas, daiquiris and your choice of tequila.
They host events in the bar area, including March Madness and the Super Bowl, bringing sports fans to the table on special occasions.
Melendez says the ceviche, including raw fish marinated in lime, tomatoes, jalapeños and onions, has already proven popular, along with the homemade fajitas and burritos offered, with chicken, steak, shrimp and a variety of fresh vegetables.
Plates are so large that visitors often order several and share among themselves for a taste of all the variety Don Rigo has to offer.
In addition to the authentic cuisine offered, like the Molcajete, Carne Asada and Chile Colorado, they also have burgers, chicken tenders and fries for young guests.
Don’t forget to try one of the many desserts including Sopapillas, a fried tortilla drizzled with honey, butter and sprinkled cinnamon, or the Flan, a flat cinnamon and vanilla cake made fresh every day.
Most of all, the Melendez family hopes Don Rigo becomes a place for the community to join together and enjoy each other’s company.
“We want to be a great spot to bring families and friends, and find anything you want on the menu,” Melendez says. “We want people to have a good time with each other and just be comfortable hanging out here.”
Don Rigo is located at 7299 East 146th Street in Carmel. Visit donrigoin.com for a complete menu.
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