Carmelo’s Taco Place

Jorge Ocampo and Herminio Gonzalez
Food & Beverage
Gage Park, Chicago, IL
Services utilized:

“Thinking through the possible problems multiple times through and developing solutions to always be ready.”

Herminio Gonzalez

Brothers-in-law Jorge Ocampo and Herminio Gonzalez opened Carmelo’s Taco Place in early 2019, after developing a strong familial bond and a natural business partnership. Jorge, originally from Colombia, had years of experience doing business within the Latinx community of Chicago, providing transfer services for immigrants who sent money to loved ones back home. Herminio, originally from Mexico, had years of back-of-house restaurant sector experience, during which he worked his way up from dishwasher to sous chef in establishments on the North Side of Chicago.

In early 2019, when Herminio came across an exciting restaurant space and his dream to launch something of his own was met with an opportunity too good to pass up. Sitting down with Jorge and each of their wives, who are sisters, Herminio proposed Carmelo’s Taco Place, a family-run modern Mexican taco shop and eatery. Herminio would be head chef and manager, while Jorge would be dedicated to administration and marketing. With their wives on board, the dream became a reality and Carmelo’s Taco Place was born.

While tacos are the heart and soul of the restaurant, the menu has evolved to incorporate a few Mexican main dishes and a full bar for drinks. Quality and freshness are the pillars Carmelo’s Taco Place. Herminio likes to keep the menu short-but-sweet, so that the maximum quality per ingredient can be achieved. He also makes homemade chorizo, for optimal freshness.

At the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, Carmelo’s Taco Place shut down for three months. Allies for Community Business helped Jorge and Herminio stay afloat with access to critical working capital. Despite the challenges of the pandemic, Herminio has a vision of growth for Carmelo’s Taco Place. Once the current restaurant is more established, he plans to open a second location in the future.

In making big decisions as a small business owner, Herminio suggests “thinking through the possible problems multiple times through and developing solutions to always be ready.”