Don Juan Mexican Restaurant serving customers at new location near Brighton

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Customer demand prompted Don Juan Mexican Restaurant's owners to open a new location near Brighton, according to a company official.

Customer demand prompted Don Juan Mexican Restaurant's owners to open a new location near Brighton, according to a company official.

The restaurant opened last month at 9475 Village Place Blvd. in the Green Oak Village Place shopping center.

David Corona, the company's business manager, said feedback from customers at an Ann Arbor location prompted him to look at the Brighton area.

"At the location on Stadium Boulevard (in Ann Arbor), a lot of our customers are from Brighton," Corona said. "We had a lot of requests from customers who eat at the place in Ann Arbor."

Many Brighton area residents commute to Ann Arbor for work.

There are five Don Juan Mexican Restaurant locations and four Los Amigos locations in Michigan and Ohio.

Both restaurant brands are owned by founder Juan Hernandez.

Corona said they plan to open another restaurant in Michigan this year.

"Right now, we are working on the 10th in West Bloomfield, and the goal is to open that one in May," he said.

While Tex-Mex-style food is popular, Corona said it is not the same as Mexican cuisine.

"I will say our American dream is getting more of the real stuff out there for customers," he said. "Over the years, Mexican food got more into Tex-Mex, and a lot of people got thinking that was Mexican food."

Mexican cuisine varies from region to region in Mexico.

Corona said many menu items have a central-Mexico flair.

"Juan is from central Mexico, his family, and a lot of recipes are his mom's recipes," he said. "We've been adding more dishes to the menu over the years."

Their Seven Seas Seafood Soup, which features seven kinds of steamed seafood, "is real Mexican," he said. "Another thing that is really Mexican is our smoked pork chops."

The restaurant also features a full bar serving beer, wine and cocktails.

The restaurant filled a vacancy in the shopping center, following the closure of Italian chain restaurant Johnny Carino's. The restaurant fell on tough times, the Detroit Free Press reported, and closed locations in Allen Park and Commerce Township. The Holland location also closed.

"We fell in love with the building, because even though it was an Italian restaurant, it had a lot of potential for a Mexican restaurant," Corona said. "We did a lot of renovation inside, but the stuff on the outside looked like pretty much what we needed for a Mexican restaurant."

Corona said the business invested between $100,000 and $150,000 to remodel the interior of the new Green Oak Township location.

Corona said the location employs 25 to 35 people. They are hiring.

"We're excited to have another restaurant added to the mix out here," said Sean Valentino, director of retail operations at REDICO, the company that manages Green Oak Village Place. "We have eight restaurants in the center now, so we are more than just shopping."

Valentino said he likes that Don Juan Mexican Restaurant is growing.

"It's exciting to see a non-chain restaurant that is growing on their own," he said.

Contact Livingston Daily reporter Jennifer Timar at 517-548-7148 or at jtimar@livingstondaily.com. Follow her on Facebook @Jennifer.Timar99 and Twitter @JenTimar99.

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Lou Frango

Senior Associate

Detroit

Lou is primarily a landlord rep specializing in the sales and marketing of retail land and buildings in Southeast Michigan, but also has tenant rep relationships with Rite Aid, Community Choice Credit Union, as well as some other local retailers.  He began his real estate career with Perry Drug Stores in 1986 and has also held real estate positions with R.A.DeMattia Development, and Rite Aid Pharmacies.
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