Local celebrity chef Ambrocio Gonzalez, owner of La Catedral Café and Restaurant, opened America’s first location in partnership with Francisco Ugalde. Las Quecas occupies a space adjacent to La Catedral Café on the 2500 block of South Christiana Avenue in Little Village on Chicago’s lower West Side neighborhood.
The restaurant specializes in homemade Mexican-style quesadillas, prepared with large tortillas and a variety of filling options including chicken, potato, ground beef and mushrooms.
Gonzalez has been cooking since the age of eight. All thanks to his single hard-working mother. She urged him to learn how to cook, because that was his household duty. He reminisced about the times she would tell him, “If you don’t cook; you don’t eat.” Therefore, cooking became his passion.
“I was the one who had to cook because my mom had to work,” he said. “She taught me everything since the beginning.”
Gonzalez moved to the U.S. when he was a teenager, and carried his mom’s advice and work ethic with him. He started working in the food industry as a bus boy and is now the owner of two businesses. He said every position was a learning opportunity.
“Now it’s different,” Gonzalez said before bursting in laughter after recognizing his supportive friends, customers and fans. “I became a better person by working hard to get to this point; working hard is the key.”
Gonzalez is known for La Catedral Café and Restaurant. Besides being a food-industry expert, he is recognized for his community efforts including spearheading “Eventos Communitarios” a Little Village community monthly newsletter; columnist for Teleguia, a Spanish television and events-guide publication, and host of his own radio segment “Botaneando con Chef Ambrocio” which airs live on Radio VIVE.
Ugalde is an entrepreneur, recording artist and former band member of a Latin- music group called “Los Elegidos.” He initiated the idea of bringing the Mexican franchise to Chicago, after meeting Gonzalez and tasting his cooking at La Catedral café and restaurant.
“Ambrocio is a really good chef; he cooks flavorful food,” Ugalde said.
Ugalde is happy to launch the first Mexican quesadilla restaurant in the Little Village neighborhood, especially after noticing how the residents embrace Mexican culture and food he said.
“That’s what inspires me to do business here in Chicago,” he said.
Ugalde said first-time customers will be pleasantly surprised when they taste the delicious food and see how affordable it is.
Chicago is just the beginning for Las Quecas. Ugalde has plans to offer other franchise opportunities in Illinois.