A 59-year-old downtown eatery regarded as Indianapolis’ first Mexican restaurant is changing ownership.
Acapulco Joe’s, 365 N. Illinois St., has been acquired by Ezequiel Fuentes, who owns or co-owns nine other Mexican restaurants in the region, including El Toro Bravo in Zionsville.
Grant Redmond, who has owned the restaurant since 2013, sold the business to Fuentes. Terms were not disclosed.
The sale was finalized Monday, the new owners announced. The restaurant will be closed for two weeks for renovations before reopening.
Fuentes said he plans to continue using Acapulco Joe’s recipes, including the one for the restaurant’s unique salsa, which is served in squirt bottles.
The new owner purchased all of the food at the restaurant and will donate it to hunger relief agency Second Helpings.
Fuentes started his career working in the food industry in Chicago. He became a U.S. citizen in 1998 and started his first U.S. restaurant in Champaign, Illinois, that same year with his late wife, Norma, his brother Victor and his uncle.
In addition to El Toro Bravo of Zionsville, Fuentes owns Fiesta Charra Mexican Restaurant in Oxford, Ohio; El Toro of Cincinnati; El Toro Bravo of Walton, Kentucky; and Mi Tierra in Chicago.
Mi Tierra is a well-known Mexican eatery in Chicago housed in a 22,000-square-foot building that looks like a hacienda and seats 560.
Fuentes and his brother also share ownership in four El Toro locations in the Champaign area.
Acapulco Joe’s was founded in 1960 by Joe Rangel, a Mexican immigrant who died in 1989. After Rangel’s death, the restaurant was owned by his longtime cook, Raymond “Butch” Phillips, former Indianapolis policeman Bob McNeil, Marsha and Mark Lasiter, and Redmond.
Redmond, who did not say why he was selling the restaurant, was critically injured in March 2018 when he was attacked by a man who left the restaurant after trying to pay his $40 bill with a stolen credit card.
Maurice Dunlap, a habitual offender, was sentenced to nearly 25 years for battery and theft for the crime, which left Redmond with a brain injury.