After nearly two decades of selling tamales out of his iconic red coolers, Claudio Velez—better known as Chicago’s legendary Tamale Guy—is getting a restaurant of his own in Ukrainian Village.
The restaurant is located at 2018 W Chicago Ave, which currently has some coolers in the window with a sign that reads “”You want tamales? See you soon.” Pierre Vega, a longtime customer of Velez, teamed up with Velez to make the restaurant happen—and to make his dream come true. The goal is to open up shop sometime in August.
ICYMI: The Tamale guy is opening a Ukrainian Village restaurant. https://t.co/TsOtdUHTLI pic.twitter.com/z1tvHYTfNN
— Block Club Chicago (@BlockClubCHI) July 24, 2020
Velez had his operations temporarily shut down earlier this year after the city issued him a cease-and-desist for selling his trademark tamales without a retail food license. Thankfully, the community started a GoFundMe in response and raised over $34,000 for Velez—far surpassing the initial $10,000 goal.
“I am very excited, especially with everyone who helped make this dream possible,” Velez told Block Club Chicago. “This has always been my dream.”