After many years of having an empty storefront in downtown Monticello, a new Mexican grocery store with a restaurant opened two weeks ago.
Owners Willington Hernandez, his father, Orlando Hernandez and family friend Jose Miranda have been commuting almost two hours every morning and night to bring authentic Mexican food to White County.
Tienda la Esperanza — translated as “Store of Hope” — carries the best in Mexican food including can goods, drinks, spices, and fresh produce. It’s located at 125 N. Main St., Monticello.
Although the store and restaurant, called La Esperanza Restaurant, has been open for only two weeks, the inventory and menu continue to grow and the future holds many more selections for customers.
“We are currently offering tacos and quesadillas for both take-out and dining in, and as we expand we will add burritos, fajitas and other authentic menu items,” Willington said. “As soon as we are issued a liquor license, we will also have a full bar with imported beers and wines.”
Willington was born in Guatemala but has lived in the United States since the age of 10. After spending two years in Texas, the family relocated to Indianapolis for more job opportunities. After graduating from high school, Willington also earned a degree in finance from the University of Indianapolis.
Jose, an El Salvadoran, also resides in Indianapolis.
“We have family in Monon so we have visited this area many times,” Willington said. “When we decided we wanted to start our own business, we knew this is where we wanted to be. Everyone here is so supportive and friendly.”
The co-owners plan to move to Monticello on Sept. 1 to be closer to their business and get involved in the community.
“We offer a fresh meat market with pork, beef, chicken, fish and seafood,” Willington said. “Most of our grocery items come from a distributor in Indianapolis but are shipped directly from Central America, so they are genuine Mexican items.”
The store and restaurant are currently open from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. seven days a week. Once the bar is open, the plan is to offer karaoke on weekend nights.
“We are offering authentic food such as tacos made with corn tortillas and cilantro, but we don’t mind making it ‘American style’ (which means adding cheese and lettuce) if that’s what our customers want,” Willington said with a laugh. “Our special right now is Taco Tuesday offering half-price tacos all day.
“Our items are in original packaging so our customers will recognize the Spanish names of the food, medicines and cleaning supplies,” Willington added. “But we are open to everyone and want to encourage anyone who is wanting an authentic Mexican food and drink experience to come and see what we have to offer.”
For more information about menu specials and new arrivals, visit Tienda La Esperanza’s Facebook page. Take-out food from La Esperanza Restaurant can be ordered by calling 574-240-1066.