IN Pine-Richland Spring 2018 - Page 14

INGOOD TASTE Candid conversations with the dining scene’s most engaging chefs John and Wendy Cibula, Owners, Franklin Inn Mexican Restaurant Franklin Inn Mexican Restaurant 2313 Rochester Road, Franklin Park; 412.366.4140, franklininn.net. On the Menu: Authentic, scratch-made Mexican fare, offer- ing specialty plates from char-grilled chorizo to a tamale and empanada of the day, plus homemade soups and salsa with chips. Main entrees offer enchiladas (Lobster, Seafood, Po- blano Mole, Frisco, Colorado Green Chile and House), burritos (Chorizo, Pineapple Poblano Pork and House) and tacos (Jalisco, Grilled Fish, Tacos Americanos and Street). There’s also Chimichangas, build-your-own fajitas, chorizo-stuffed Portobello and quesadilla. For burger lovers, the menu offers a fresh and lo- cal ground beef and chorizo Mexican sausage burger (Jefe Burger) and the Black Bean Burg- er topped with feta cheese, pico de gallo and chile mayonesa. Homemade desserts include a Peanut Butter Ice Cream Pie, Caramel Flan, Fried Ice Cream (with house-made crust), Sopaipillas and Mexican Hot Fudge Sundae. There’s a variety of drink selections to choose from, too—from Tequila, margaritas, wine and beer to Mexican soda. What led you and John to own Franklin Inn Mexican Restaurant? W.C.: It was first owned by John’s parents [Hank and Sue Cibula] and I married the restaurant when I married John! Later John and I bought it from his parents when they retired. In 1978, when John was 14, his dad bought the Franklin Inn. It didn’t start out as Q A Mexican; they had various themes before it became successful with Mexican food. The Mexican theme started as just a Mexican night at the restaurant, and from that night it took off. We had managers who knew Mexican cuisine, and John’s parents decided we should go Mexican because there was nowhere else in the area that served it. J.C.: My parents traveled to Mexico to learn the recipes. W.C.: I got to go a few times, too—that was fun, and a good experience. J.C.: And we’ve had different chefs who have provided their expertise to the Mexican dishes as well. W.C.: John’s dad was a financial planner and a foodie. He liked to experiment with recipes. He was creative, but owned another business. It was John’s mom who rolled up her sleeves and turned it into a success. John worked at the restaurant as a teen before he went to college. He initially went to work elsewhere. She asked him to return and help run the business. It made sense, since he was already managing the Inn, that we bought the restaurant from his parents in 2000. A few of the recipes on the menu today were actually created by his mom, such as the Colorado Green Chile and Seafood Enchiladas. Today, John and I manage the menu with a kitchen “dream team” led by Chef Nemorio Ramirez, General Manager Chris Ribarchak, and Karen Matulvic, who was trained by Sue and has been with the restaurant for 30 years. She’s our day prep cook. J.C.: Between the three of them we have a great kitchen staff. How do you decide on the menu? W.C.: As a team, John and I direct the menu. The staff at Franklin Inn Mexican Restaurant (l-r): Chris Ribarchak, GM; Chef Nemorio Ramirez; and owners Wendy and John Cibula. Then we have tastings where the chef will prepare something for us. We call it “Tasting Tuesdays” where we gather together for tasting and feedback. Special features that are popular with our customers make it to the menu. What kitchen tool can’t you live without? J.C.: Our large Cuisinart—and the blender for all of our handcrafted dishes and drinks. W.C.: Especially the blender. For our margaritas, we put a mason jar on top of the blade. My favorite is our Fresh Squeeze Margarita. What is your favorite go-to ingredient? W.C.: Fresh garlic. It goes in with my beans and greens. I also love basil—it’s growing on top of my aquaponic fish tank. J.C.: Cilantro. I love it in everything, even salad. Other than your restaurant, where’s your favorite place to eat? W.C.: We go Totin’s Diner in Wexford or First Watch for breakfast. J.C.: That’s our date night—or date morning. Dinners out are usually ruled by our kids (ages 17, 15 and 11). What’s the next big food or dining trend? W.C.: I laugh about this, but today’s trend to eat local and to use local ingredients is nothing new to our family. John’s parents were doing this 30 years ago and we haven’t stopped. J.C.: People want to eat local. It’s our source of pride. n Chorizo Stuffed Portobello 12 724.942.0940 TO ADVERTISE ❘ icmags.com —Reese Randall