Beatriz Cardona started making fresh Latin cuisine from her home a couple of years ago for family and friends.
Soon, they started clamoring for more dishes, more often to fill their cravings.
That's when she and her husband, Alberto, realized she had a special gift. Her home kitchen wasn't big enough to keep up with the requests for special events catering and more, so she started cooking out of the Shared Dream Kitchen in Elgin.
Each day she would make about 25 to 30 Latin-inspired meals, and then start advertising them on social media. She also would go to local barber shops in Elgin with her dishes, and to food truck events to get people to taste her food.
Once people tasted it, they became fans, she said, and the orders started picking up.
Now, Cardona is planning to take her food to an even bigger audience.
In August, she will be opening her first restaurant, BeaUnique Latin Kitchen, along the Randall Road corridor in St. Charles.
She and Alberto are in the process of prepping the space at 615 Randall Road, which, when complete, will seat about 45 people and have a menu filled with gourmet dishes from Cuba, the Caribbean, Colombia, Mexico and more.
"I'm truly excited, and overly excited as to how far I've come," Beatriz Cardona said. "I started my business from home, now soon to be cooking out of my own restaurant. It's a dream that's soon to become a reality."
Beatriz and Alberto currently run the business in Elgin, and will be adding more flavors and dishes to the new St. Charles sit-down restaurant. In addition, they are hoping to add a bar to the restaurant.
But it is the flavorful food that keeps people coming back, Alberto Cardona said.
He says his wife's cooking is amazing, but credits her famous green sauce with making the business explode.
Cardona said his wife makes the best steak sandwich around. But when she adds the green sauce to it, something magical happens.
"Her magic green sauce, that's what really carries the plates and flavor to a new level," he said. "That and her fresh marinades really put her on the map."
He said she's been perfecting everything in the Dream Kitchen, and is ready to introduce to it to a larger crowd at the restaurant.
In addition to the favorites they already serve -- tacos, Cuban sandwiches, steak sandwiches and more -- they will be adding new items to the menu, including pork chops and other meats.
Already, the couple said, people come from all over to try the food. The Cardonas are hoping the new restaurant along Randall Road will be a big draw.
"I'm truly excited being that within eight months my business grew rapidly," she said. "I'm now going on two and half years. We have many fly in and many that come from surrounding suburbs and Chicago.
"I love my customers. It's like a big family, and most of all a dream come true," Cardona said. "I was born to be a chef. I love cooking. I love people. I'm excited."
• Amy Williams' column covers all the news of business along the Randall Road corridor from Batavia to Crystal Lake. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org or (847) 894-5036.