With the current state of the economy, it would seem now would be one of the most difficult times to start a new business, especially a restaurant.
But two Michiana men are up to the challenge, and their modern Mexican cuisine is backing them up.
Thursday’s Unique Eats takes us to Mod Mex in Elkhart.
Last year recent Holy Cross College grads John Kent and Jose Rios decided to take a big risk.
After not being able to find a job, Jose, with the help of his father, decided to open Mod Mex on 11/11/11. The restaurant provides a modern take on Mexican food, with big city taste in Elkhart.
Assistant Manager of Mod Mex John Kent said of the food, “You think of spices, chili peppers and stuff like that, but we infuse mango, crab, pineapple, honey and sweet stuff.”
Dinner is served in a Mexican and southwestern inspired dining room, complete with handmade woven light fixtures.
It's a little different for lunch. You walk in and order off the board at the host stand, which consists of tacos and burritos. John sends back the order to the kitchen via his Mac Book. Soon, the restaurant hopes the servers will all take orders on iPads.
It's a convenient system, and it has to be.
Kent explains how the technology has helped the business. “Lunch time especially, is a two man operation. So I'll send the order straight to him instead of me having to run back and forth with orders.”
At just 24 years old, Jose definitely knows his way around the kitchen.
We're making guacamole with fresh crab, to be served with homemade tortilla chips, which are hot and made to order.
Some of the dinner items include enchiladas with tomatillo salsa, pork carnitas with honey chipotle salsa, chipotle chicken tostadas with tomato, chicken flautas with pickled cabbage and cilantro lime rice. Their most popular dish is a coffee beef machaca.
Kent describes the flavors in the beef brisket by saying, “The coffee adds a unique flavor, that's slow pressure cooked with the beef brisket and it culminated into a really nice flavor.”
For dessert, it's the homemade Mexican cake with pineapple, or classic fried ice cream.
“When people come here, we're hoping they experience is great food, something they have never tasted around here before. We hope to stand out through our menu and the different things we offer," Kent said.
Mod Mex is located at 1700 Toledo Road in Elkhart.
It's open for lunch and dinner, but does close for a few hours in the afternoon to recognize the siesta.