At a few minutes before 11 a.m. Tuesday, Hector Gonzalez walked to a corner of his restaurant, where he arrived five hours earlier to prepare the food, and turned on the two “OPEN” signs.
With that, the first downtown Middletown Mexican restaurant, which Gonzalez had said would open in September 2021, finally held its grand opening.
Gonzalez and his family — wife, Nora, and four children, Linda, 21, Noraly, 19, Hector Jr., 15, and Levi, 12 — attended the ribbon-cutting ceremony hosted by the city’s economic development department. Then the family returned to the kitchen and dining room for last-minute preparations.
Gonzalez, 48, of Beavercreek, owns and operates Hector’s Taco Shop near Wright State University in Fairborn and is part-owner of Victor’s Taco Shop that opened last year in Monroe.
After talking to his friend Ron Decker, a Middletown architect, and Scott Lewis, whose family owns several downtown Middletown buildings, Gonzalez was convinced to open his second location in an 8,000 square feet building at 1126 Central Ave., the space formerly occupied by two pizza restaurants that failed and closed.
“I heard a lot of good things coming to Middletown,” he said before the ribbon-cutting. “I saw people wanting to bring it back where it was. I wanted to be a part of it.”
The inside of the restaurant has been extensively remodeled since Don’s Pizza closed last year due to a worker shortage. Only the “order here” sign, designed to look like a slice of pizza, remains.
Hector’s serves what Gonzalez called “faster service Mexican food using only fresh ingredients.” Besides traditional Mexican fare like tacos, burritos, enchiladas, tostadas and fajitas, Gonzalez said he will serve Mexican pizza and Mexican breakfast.
He has applied for a liquor license and hopes to be approved soon, he said.
When asked about opening a restaurants where two pizza places closed, Gonzalez said he “wasn’t scared” because his restaurant will use only fresh ingredients and provide quality customer service.
“If you do that,” he said, “they will come.”
Gonzalez said his father worked in the restaurant business so he’s continuing a family tradition. He dropped out of high school, then earned his GED. His family owned restaurants in San Diego and Phoenix before he moved to Ohio where he saw “more opportunity” for opening Mexican restaurants.
“It’s been good to us,” he said.
HOW TO GO
WHAT: Hector’s Taco Shop
WHERE: 1126 Central Ave., Middletown
WHEN: 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday
DOWNTOWN MIDDLETOWN RESTAURANT/BARS
Here are some of the restaurants/bars located in downtown Middletown:
At The Square: 1045 Central Ave.
Brent’s Smokin’ Butts & Grill: 1206 Central Ave.
Hector’s Taco Shop: 1126 Central Ave.
Merkles Tavern on Central: 1224 Central Ave.
Mockingbirds Cafe: 1024 Central Ave.
Mz. Jade’s Soul Food: 1131 Central Ave.
NEW Ales: 1521 First Ave.
Potato Bar Cafe: 1105 Central Ave.
Rolling Mill Brewing Co.: 916 First Ave.
Swire Inn: 64 S. Main St.
The Slice: 1300 Central Ave.
Triple J’s Deli: 1218 Central Ave.
Triple Moon Coffee Shop: 1100 Central Ave.
West Central Wine: 1120 Central Ave.
White Dog Saloon & Distilling Co.: 1357 Central Ave.
About the Author