Chef Mariela Bolaños, who's worked for many chic West Loop restaurants in Chicago and at US Foods, is returning to her hometown of East Chicago to open a takeout and delivery restaurant.
A graduate of the Illinois Institute of Art-Chicago, Bolaños has cooked at Viand American Bistro, Landry’s Inc., Fabio Viviani’s Bar Siena and Phil Stefani's MAD Social in the West Loop. She has worked with celebrity chefs like Steve Chiappetti and Rick Bayless and has been named by Eater Chicago as one of the 24 Women Chefs who reign over the city of Chicago.
Her latest venture, Easy Peazy, will focus on cuisine like Latino-style Ramen, Mexican-style pork belly bao buns, chicken and waffles and shrimp ceviche. It will be located at 711 W. Chicago Ave. in East Chicago, where her mother Debra Bolaños had run Galaxy Travel and has long directed the Xel-Ha Escuela de Danza dance studio.
Bolaños may eventually launch a food truck or a bar with small plates. Her restaurant will not offer dine-in or carryout. Instead, it will take orders online and through an app for curbside pickup and offer delivery through third-party vendors like DoorDash.
"So much of the food around here is tacos, pizzas or wings," she said. "I want to bring a new flair of upscale comfort food. This is basically global comfort food I am putting my own spin on. It will still be food that people have heard of and are comfortable ordering because I known some people are adventurous while others are not."
After years of working at refined Chicago restaurants, she wanted to return home to give back.
"I'm proud of the city where I'm from," she said. "This is where I want to build my brand."
Bolaños plans to serve fare like Ramen with a sweet, savory soy sauce, green onions, cilantro and house-pickled jalapenos.
"It sounds so good," she said. "It's like a party in your mouth."
Easy Peazy will do bulk orders for places like the East Chicago City Hall during the week and likely also will offer brunch on Sundays.
"We won't do something like steak and eggs," she said. "If we did it would be a modernized French steak and eggs with chimichurri sauce and rustic potatoes with grilled peppers and onions.
"The food has to be sexy," she said. "I want to put out a menu for people who are adventurous."
Her goal is to open the restaurant in early February.
The restaurant will be open for lunch and dinner from Thursday through Saturday and for brunch on Sunday. Bolaños plans to broadcast her cooking on TikTok.
"I am not just someone who thinks they can make a great sandwich and am deciding to open a restaurant," she said. "I'm a real chef who's worked at tons of restaurants, with celebrity chefs, and in the corporate world."
For more information, find Easy Peazy on Facebook and Instagram.
Region restaurants that closed in 2020
Region restaurants that closed in 2020
2020 has been a hard year for restaurants in the Region with the coronavirus pandemic and the lockdowns and restrictions that followed. Here's a look at the restaurants, brewpubs and chain eateries Northwest Indiana lost in one of the toughest years in recent memory:
The reason why Bakers Square abruptly shuttered its restaurants in Lansing and Merrillville over the weekend has come to light.
3 Floyds told investors it is permanently closing its landmark brewpub in Munster, which has been a major draw to Northwest Indiana.
The owner of the Schererville and Merrillville Golden Corrals faces a murder charge in a cold case killing of a Missouri teen who was found in a drainage ditch with two gunshot wounds to the head.
There's no more going back for seconds or thirds at the Old Country Buffet in Highland.
Figure Eight Brewing, a staple of downtown Valparaiso for a decade, plans to close in two weeks.
Yats Creole and Cajun restaurant geaux out of business after after six years in Valparaiso.
The coronavirus pandemic has resulted in another permanent closure of a Region restaurant.
The authentic southern-style barbecue restaurant, one of the first to deliver food to local hospitals and first responders during the pandemic, is temporarily closing its locations in Dyer, Mokena, Milwaukee and Madison.
Four Winds Casino New Buffalo will replace The Hard Rock Cafe with Kankakee Grille, which will feature live music and modern comfort food.
Aspen Cafe closes after 30 years in St. John, the Pancake Club closes in Schererville, Pita Stop coming to Dyer
The Stacked Pickle restaurant chain that former Indianapolis Colts player Gary Brackett was trying to expand to Northwest Indiana and the south suburbs has fallen victim to the coronavirus pandemic.
NWI Business Ins and Outs: Q-BBQ closed, Chunky Tacos, Dunkin, Andrade Nails, NorthShore Health Centers, and Direct Mortgage Loans opening
Smoothie King comes to Crown Point, Kowloon and Canton House close, Caribbean jerk restaurant coming, Burger King getting rebuilt
NWI Business Ins and Outs: Domino's coming to Hobart, American Sale closes after 50 years in Lansing, sushi place comes to Winfield, and Troost closes
Pancakes are about to go global in Schererville.