Diners who walk into the new Antigua Mexican Grill location in downtown Woodstock are greeted by a cheery atmosphere with bright paint on the walls and a mural by artist Aero Cruz.
The manager, Kiara Minor, feels the reception from Woodstock residents has been very warm.
“It’s been more than welcoming,” Minor said. “They gave us the best welcome ever.”
Antigua Mexican Grill opened a new location near the Woodstock Square at 125 E. Calhoun St. just before Labor Day, marking the third Antigua restaurant to open after locations in Crystal Lake and Algonquin. A fourth is planned for Huntley.
“I really like McHenry County,” owner Luis Rodriguez said.
Rodriguez said he was drawn to the Woodstock Square because it reminded him of his hometown of Zacatecas, Mexico.
He said Zacatecas had a “beautiful” town square, and he wanted an Antigua location on or near the Woodstock Square.
The menu also is inspired by Zacatecas. Rodriguez said he got a lot of recipes from his mother and grandmother. A dish called Zacatecas on the menu includes popular regional ingredients such as cactus and chorizo.
He said he got into the restaurant industry after he owned a restaurant in Mexico.
“It was my dream to own a restaurant in the U.S.,” Rodriguez said.
It was my dream to own a restaurant in the U.S.”— Luis Rodriguez, owner of Antigua Mexican Grill
He opened the first Antigua Mexican Grill restaurant in Crystal Lake in 2018.
“I was looking for a nice place,” Rodriguez said. “I really liked the neighborhood and community.”
Then, he opened a second location in Algonquin in June 2022. He said he noticed a lot of customers at the Crystal Lake location drove from Woodstock.
Although the Woodstock location opened Sept. 1, Rodriguez said he bought the building in June. It previously housed BBQ King Smokehouse, which still has a Huntley location.
Rodriguez also has a fourth Antigua Mexican Grill location planned for Huntley next year, but he plans to stop opening new Antigua locations after that. Rodriguez originally planned to open the Huntley location this fall, but he said the permit process has delayed the project.
“For now, I’m going to stop expanding,” Rodriguez said. “Finish Huntley and stop for a little bit.”
With three locations in the McHenry County region, Rodriguez said he feels diners patronizing the restaurant have been vital to Antigua’s success.
“We have found support from the community,” Rodriguez said. “I just want to thank the community.”