Brian Trejo has worked in restaurants since the age of 12, doing everything from washing dishes to cooking.
Now, with the help of family members, he’s about to open a new Mexican eatery in DeForest called El Alegre, at 314 N. Main Street next to Karate America). The community appealed to him right away.
“For DeForest, we noticed the growth,” said Trejo. “In dropping by, it was a small village and we liked it – good environment, good people.”
Trejo opened El Alegre on Monday, Sept. 23. On Wednesday, Sept. 18, his dad Lalo and aunt Marta, Lalo’s sister, were at the restaurant helping get everything ready. Brian Trejo said both have been running restaurants in Mexico since the 1980s.
More than anything, Trejo is excited to showcase the authentic, traditional Mexican food they plan to serve at El Alegre, which will also feature a sidewalk cafe. He said the full menu will feature a lot of variety, with dishes from different parts of Mexico that Trejo said haven’t been seen around the area before.
Two specialties in particular will provide a new experience for area foodies, including one called Chile En Nogada. Trejo said it’s a roasted poblano pepper filled with ground beef, apple, pear, peach and walnuts, with a walnut sauce.
“It’s really traditional,” said Trejo. “People haven’t seen it here.”
The other one Trejo talked about was the pollo alegre, which is half a grilled chicken specially seasoned and grilled. Possible sides include fries, a guacamole salad, pico de gallo, hot sauce and beans and rice.
With a wide variety of tequilas, fresh-made margaritas will also be features.
Trejo’s cousins own Compadres Mexican Restaurant in Middleton and Gloria’s Mexican Restaurant on Junction Road in Madison. He’s worked at both.
While Trejo has been involved in almost every aspect of the restaurant business, at El Alegre he’ll mostly be working the front of the restaurant, taking care of customers. Although, he says he’ll jump in the back if needed.
“I like meeting people and having chats,” said Trejo. “It’s natural, nothing forced.”
When trying to come up with a name for the restaurant, Trejo thought of his dad, who Trejo describes as “super energetic and happy.” Loosely translated, El Alegre means “happy person,” said Trejo, and he hopes to bring those joyful vibes to the restaurant.
The process of bringing El Alegre to DeForest began in February. This is Trejo’s first restaurant opening , so some of the details were foreign to him.
“This is my first time dealing with contractors and construction,” said Trejo. “It’s my first time doing stuff other than in the kitchen.”
Trejo wants people to come to El Alegre and feel right at home, have a seat and have good food and good drinks. So far, he feels the whole project has flowed pretty well. He’s been enjoying doing the bar and picking colors and “doing it my way with my own ideas. It’s going to special to all of us.”