For years, Morgan and Misti Jimenez have dreamed of opening a second restaurant.
They already tasted success with The Big Easy, located at the intersection of Stoneybrook West Parkway and Avalon Road, but they wanted to expand their brand.
What they never imagined was that their expansion would be just across the street from their first restaurant.
“Opening a second restaurant was always on the radar, maybe doing another Big Easy,” Morgan said. “We were looking at other areas, but we love Winter Garden. So when the opportunity came across the street, I figured I’d just do something else (instead of another Big Easy).”
To decide what kind of food to serve at the new restaurant, the couple turned to their loyal Big Easy patrons for help.
“I did a survey asking people what kind of food they need for this area and a lot of them were talking about Latin American and Mexican foods,” Morgan said. “So that’s how it began.”
On Cinco de Mayo, Casa Jimenez officially opened its doors for business, featuring a variety of Latin American food and a tequila bar.
For Morgan, the decision to do Latin American food was tied to his family’s Colombian roots and desire not to be just another Mexican restaurant.
“I was trying to do something that would set us apart,” he said. “I started doing some research looking at different cuisines for the Latin America area and found that each country has specific dishes that they’re known for. They all have their own little flair.”
Morgan and Misti based their menu on that flair. Although the menu includes some typical Mexican fare, such as burritos and fajitas, the primary focus is on foods from a variety of Latin American countries, such as a Spanish paella and Jamaican jerk chicken.
“We feature countries like Brazil, Spain and Puerto Rico and have a dish from each of those countries,” Morgan said.
The restaurant features a main dining room, an open-air bar area and a patio with picnic tables and umbrellas. The bar area is made from reclaimed wood and features a variety of tequilas on display.
“It makes it a little bit different,” Morgan said.
Over the last few weeks, the couple has been working to finalize the menu and finish training the staff so they can extend their hours of operation. But so far, the community reception has been positive and the loyal customers from The Big Easy now split their time between the cajun restaurant and the new Latin American restaurant across the street.
“We feel super blessed,” Misti said.
Contact Brittany Gaines at [email protected].