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  • Writer's pictureDaniel Salazar

Cesar and Monica Garrido - Chicharo's Mexican Grill

Updated: Apr 25, 2022

Cesar and Monica Garrido are the proud owners of Chicharo's Mexican Grill, located in the Muscatine Mall at 1903 Park Avenue, Unit 6500. Both from Hidalgo, Mexico, they have been a part of Muscatine for over thirteen years. Mr. Garrido first made the trek to the United States in 1994, landing in Colorado and figuring he would work for two years, then return to Mexico to open his own cheese factory. However, that plan changed after a surprise visit.

“As destiny would have it, plans change. After about six months here my wife came to be with me,” said Mr. Garrido.

When asked why she decided to leave her family and hometown behind, Monica simply answered, “I love him so I decided to come.”

In Colorado, Cesar, who had never cooked before, eventually got a job through his friends. Before he knew it, he was becoming a well-trained chef for the mere reason of necessity. In the beginning, Cesar and Monica had nothing but a bare apartment with a table in the middle of the room. The Garridos' two years turned into three, then four, as their life continued in Colorado.

Monica stated that the first couple of years were tough. They had to adapt to a new culture and language, but she was especially appreciative of the schools they had access to.

After about ten years in Colorado, they moved to Kansas and began working for a company called “Tortillas Mexico.” During this time, Cesar and Monica opened a food truck on the side. When the company closed, the Garridos didn't have many options, so they decided to take Cesar’s brother’s offer to move to Muscatine.

“One of the hardest things for me was moving to such a small town. There was nothing there but we didn't have much of a choice,” said Cesar. “Now I like it very much and here we still are. I'm not sure about the climate but it's very pretty here.”

Once in Muscatine, Cesar noticed the many factories the city had to offer and thought he could start business with his taco truck again. Realizing Muscatine was a smaller town, he knew that the taco truck would take time to attract customers. His patience eventually paid off. After a couple of years, business was so good that people kept asking the Garridos to open a restaurant, so by public demand they did.

Moving forward, the Garridos plan to implement tablets instead of notepads and have recently changed their name to “Chicharo's Tequila Bar and Grill.” Along with the name change, they are creating brand new menus.

The Garridos keep themselves busy bettering their restaurant and enjoying their lives in Muscatine.

“We’d love to grow more here in Muscatine,” said Monica. “I heard comments that we and other Mexican restaurants are in grave competition with each other, but in reality we are all separate. I don't see them as competition because we are all different.”

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