A familiar bovine face is about to shine bright again, but this time with a new twist.
The former Western Grill restaurant was a landmark for hungry travelers and Casper residents since 1956. Many likely remember a model train on elevated tracks that entertained customers, and the big bull’s face on its neon sign was a beacon for generations.
But even landmarks can’t last forever, and in 2017 the owners decided to close after a family patriarch died.
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In the meantime, three families with dreams of bringing their own Mexican culinary roots alive in Casper were looking for just the right opportunity.
“We’d been looking for a spot for a few years,” said Marisela Moreno, co-owner of the new El Burro Loco.
Partners with Marisela are her husband Eugenio, her parents Antonia and Federico Gomez, her sister Mimi Ramirez and her husband Juan Ramirez. All bring various past restaurant experiences, including Mimi, who was an original partner in Dsasumo.
Marisela’s parents and husband were born in the state of Jalisco, Mexico, and bring that tradition of cooking to Casper.
“They all love to cook and we always wanted to open a restaurant,” said Marisela.
“Finding the location was a huge challenge,” she said. “We looked at renting but it was so expensive, and at the end of the day you don’t own it, you’re just paying someone.”
This year they bought the old Western Grill building and began renovations. They plan on opening by next month.
The concept is likened to “fast casual,” where a customer orders, the food is made fresh and fast, then picked up at the other end of the counter. Customers can take their food to go or eat at one of the tables.
“It’ll be quick & easy,” said Marisela. “It’s a fast paced restaurant. You can sit down or you can take it.” You’ll also be able to preorder online.
Jalisco’s cuisine should be familiar to most people, but there are nuances.
Tortas, which is a big roll stuffed with various meats, and chilaquiles, a savory dish of corn chips smothered in meats, cheese and sauces, are staples in the Jalisco area.
Tacos and burritos will also be heavily featured, all with an emphasis on breakfast items.
Marisela says the corn tortillas will be house-made and fresh, as will eventually the flour tortillas.
“That is key,” she said. “You can’t have tacos without homemade tortillas.”
Beer will eventually be available, and eventually house-made Mexican desserts.
The family hopes to be open in the first or second week of next month, said Marisela, after the last few details in the kitchen are completed.
While the diner fare and elevated model train might be gone, perhaps the most familiar feature lives on. That sign.
“My dad did not want us to get rid of the bull,” said Marisela. “Even though it doesn’t really go with the name, the bull lives on.”
El Burro Loco is located at 2333 E. Yellowstone Hwy. Hours are Tuesday through Friday from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m., Saturday from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m., and Sunday from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. More information and a full menu can be seen at their Facebook page.