After moving from Mexico in 1983, Joe began work as a dishwasher in Amboy, Illinois where he also learned to speak English. It didn’t take long before he realized that he wanted more out of life than washing dishes so Joe learned how to cook. After becoming an excellent cook, he decided that he wanted to be his own boss rather than work for someone else.
Joes dream came true in 1988 when he opened his own restaurant with his wife Ana. The Lodge, located in Sublette was the beginning of their restaurant adventure. The original menu at The Lodge served mostly American food such as burgers, fries and steaks, but also offered five Mexican dishes. After only three months of business, the Mexican dishes eventually grew to a two page section. The Lodge was so successful they opened more restaurants. Jalepenos and Pepe’s were opened in 1997 and were very successful.
Joe and Anna decided to sell their establishments and open one Mexican restaurant named EL Zarape in 2000. Their business has grown to great heights and employees mostly friends and family.