A new restaurant will spice up the downtown restaurant scene. Formerly Calogeros Italian Restaurant, Tequilaville will make its debut by January as a Mexican-American sports bar and grill.
Woodstock High School friends Afrim “Alex” Banushi and Guillermo “Memo” Zamorano, 1997 graduates, are planning to serve up tequila-infused dishes and drinks along with authentic Mexican food like tacos and more American sports-bar food items like wings and chicken fingers in their new restaurant.
“We’ve mixed the sports bar atmosphere with good Mexican-American food,” Zamorano said. “One of the things we’ve noticed is that, for the most part, the Mexican places here in Woodstock don’t have TVs with the game on. It’s not available. We’re going to be a place to have good Mexican food and watch the game.”
Though they are planning to keep their new establishment open during some bar hours, Zamorano and Banushi are more focused on it being an inviting, sit-down restaurant for friends and families. They said they want their place to have a Buffalo Wild Wings-type of feel.
“I’ve been wanting to do this for a while,” said Zamorano, who developed a passion for working in the restaurant business during a high school food-service internship. “My background is Hispanic. My dad is from Mexico, my mom is from El Salvador, so Mexican food is always around. You can never have enough of it.”
Zamorano’s friend Banushi also has prior experience in the industry. His mother, Linda, and late father, Denny, had been in the restaurant business for about 18 years as owners of Woodstock’s American Table, which is currently home to Isabel’s Family Restaurant on Route 47.
“I guess I kind of had an itch to get back in the business,” Banushi said. For Tequilaville, he said, “We want to offer a fun atmosphere. Good food, good times. We want a nice, upbeat and friendly atmosphere and make sure everything has taste and is fresh. I like the restaurant business because you get to meet all kinds of different people.”
Banushi said his wife, Jeta, is excited for his new venture, and his children are looking forward to being honorary restaurant employees. At ages 8, 6 and 4, Aaron, Serena and Denny are eager to work the register and greet customers.
“The kids think they’re going to work there,” Banushi said. “They filled out applications the best that they could, because they want a job. They’re excited about it because Daddy is opening a restaurant. My oldest, he’s the one that wants to run a register. He wants a job.”
The business partners said they hope to open Tequilaville before the New Year.