After spending 17 years working in an Italian restaurant, Misael Garcia decided it was time to open his own place.
So, the Palatine man recently launched Island Pizza at 116 Penny Road in East Dundee.
"This is a country for opportunity," said Garcia, who was born and raised in Mexico.
While the main focus of the restaurant is Italian food, the eatery also features aspects popular in Garcia's home country. For example, he makes pan Mexicano, a Mexican bread, that has been a hit as well as Mexican pastries. He also bakes French and Italian breads daily.
The pizza and pasta dishes have been top sellers as well. He said the lasagna, $8.75, baked mostaccioli, $7.45, and fettuccine Alfredo with chicken or shrimp, $7.99, have been popular picks at the eatery.
The restaurant also features cold and grilled sandwiches.
Garcia runs the day-to-day operations of the restaurant, which also offers pickup and delivery services. Art Islas, who owns another business, serves as Garcia's business partner in the restaurant venture. The name for the business comes from Islas' last name, which means island in Spanish.
Garcia explains that he has always enjoyed cooking and worked at a medical clinic in Mexico, where his responsibilities included cooking for the doctors.
He immigrated here in 1993 and started working for an Italian restaurant as a dishwasher, then moved into the kitchen, where he felt much more comfortable.
"I really like to cook," he said.
Once he was here for a while, friends and family urged Garcia to buy a home. He told them he wanted to open a pizzeria and continued to save his money for his business venture.
He admits that it has been rough getting the business off the ground in this weak economy.
"It's not too easy," he said.
A difficult aspect has been informing people he is open for business. The entrepreneur said when customers visit once, they return.
Garcia said he attempts to make the menu prices affordable. He offers lunch specials that include a slice of pizza, fries and a drink for $4.99.
Medium pizzas with one topping are $5.50 at all times.
The restaurant is open Monday and Tuesday 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., Wednesday through Saturday 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. and closed on Sunday except for catering. For more, call (224) 699-9447.