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Chicago has great stories to illustrate the real ‘American dream’. The entrepreneurial spirit, courage, and enthusiasm of so many Hispanic immigrants who have come to our city and allowed us to build many incredible success stories.

Thanks to the efforts of two Mexican brothers, who have dedicated their lives to work and help their community, one of the restaurants that marked the history of the 20th Century in Chicago keeps its doors open today.

Even in the most difficult times for the restaurant industry, this place keeps jobs and offers South Side families a safe alternative to have a good time away from worries.

The Red Barrel, on Archer Avenue, has been in Chicago’s history books since 1970.

In 2017 The Red Barrel had been closed for some time, when Luis and Carlos Vazquez, building contractors in our community, happened to find this jewel in the heart of Archer Heights. They bought the place, made the renovations to preserve its original structure and created a different menu

and a family atmosphere that has boosted sales, even in these times.

Luis and Carlos are proud of this iconic exterior and of having preserved a historic place, with the same name and concept of the restaurant that has been praised several times in Chicago’s history.

Good guys

But the most interesting thing, as always, is not in the structure or anything material. It is in the heart of these immigrants, which beats with a force that drives them to do things differently.

In 1994 both brothers came to Chicago from their native San Julián, in Jalisco. Luis was a dishwasher and Carlos a bartender. Like many immigrants, they were willing to work in anything to be able to get ahead. Four years later, the brother-in-law got Luis a good job in construction, working with a Texan contractor whose parents were originally from Nuevo Leon.

They soon became independent contractors and founded a company called Toro Construction. With a lot of effort and hard work that small company became one of the most important Hispanic construction companies in Chicago. Thanks to their effort they were able to invest in other businesses, such as the Red Barrel.

Let’s help those who help

In 2019, almost two years after the reopening, Red Barrel served 12,000 customers, offering them what both brothers call ‘continental food’ (“because it comes from all continents: there are original recipes from Italy, the United States and, of course, from their beloved Mexico).

They continue in the construction business and left the operation in the hands of a trusted team, led by Chef Orlando from Michoacán and the ever-dynamic Guadalupe Padilla. Thanks to their experience the Vazquez brothers’ business vision, attracted customers that never left the restaurant.

Today, during the pandemic, many families return every week. The secret? A good seasoning, a great atmosphere, and the guarantee that the Red Barrel follows all the hygiene rules required by the state and the City, in which costumers feel safe.

Today you can eat, for half the price you would pay downtown Chicago, some tasty “aguachile” (the brothers’ favorite dish) and a spectacular steak.


Everyone in southwest Chicago who appreciates a meal whose quality is above most other restaurants is a loyal Red Barrel customer.

The great entrepreneurial spirit of the Vazquez brothers and those customers who today visit their decorated patio are also the ones who allow keeping the work of almost 20 families during this pandemic.

But beyond Luis and Carlos’ work history, this story of the American dream deserves to continue to be supported.

Jaime di Paulo, President & CEO of the Illinois Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (IHCC), visited the Vazquez brothers at the Red Barrel this week as part of his advocacy and support in local small businesses. Now, more than ever, it’s time to help those who help.

Consuming in our community businesses you are giving a fundamental contribution to keeping alive their dreams.

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