A new fast-casual Mexican street food chain is debuting in early October in suburban Naperville from two executives who helped start Naf Naf Grill, the Middle Eastern chain that’s expanded to nine states. The new restaurant’s called Invicto, and it’s from suburban Chicago natives David Sloan and his half-brother Franklin Wiener. Sloan said the chain will differ from other fast-casual Mexican spots because of the tortillas made on premises and the decor.
The brothers have also invested in Blackwood BBQ, calling their company Venture Kitchens. Sloan specializes in opening and developing chains. He and Wiener remain shareholders in Naf Naf, but sold the chain to a private-equity firm in 2017 after opening about 40 locations. Sloan hopes to reinvigorate the Blackwood and open more locations. The barbecue chain shuttered a Wrigleyville location late last year.
Right now the focus is on Invicto which could expand to about 20 locations after openings in Naperville (1727 Freedom Drive) and Vernon Hills (at the Mellody Farm development). Ownership is still looking for a downtown Chicago location. Invicto means to transport customers, Sloan said, to make the feel they’re eating at a taqueria in Mexico City. He feels it’s an upgrade from sterile competitors like Chipotle and Qdoba. As more customers prefer delivery and take out, Sloan said restaurants need to offer patrons better reasons to dine at their establishments.
“It’s all about Instagram, it’s about the experience now,” Sloan said. “When you walk into one of our new restaurants, we want you to feel like you’re walking into a different time, a different place.”
The menu will feature “authentic Tijuana-style tacos,” Sloan said, with grilled chicken, carne asada, and taco arabe. The restaurant will also serve cemitas, Mexican milkshakes, and a Mexican-style poutine. There’s also Sonoran hot dogs wrapped in bacon and quesadillas. Sloan’s visits to Mexico inspired him, and while Invicto won’t focus on a specific Mexican region, the restaurant aims to pluck items from across the country. Also, this isn’t a case of peeking through a window and swiping a recipe from an abuelita. Invicto used a consultant, Jonathan Jimenez Alvarado. He’s a Mexican-born chef who worked at the recently relocated Pujol in Mexico City. They’ll also serve paletas, margaritas, and beer. An agua fresca bar is also present.
Chicagoans have an appetite for Mexican food, so stay tuned on more news on Invicto in the coming weeks.