It’s been 16 months since a fire closed Mi Jacalito Restaurante, a popular Mexican restaurant at 1318 Douglas Ave. in Racine. The owners have been busy expanding and updating the restaurant. Their work will pay off Friday afternoon when the updated eatery reopens its doors.

One big change will be the size. Formerly a much smaller operation stuffed into a corner of its building, the new restaurant will now occupy the entire building. The restaurant has taken over a part of the building that had housed a Western wear shop.

“We’ve remodeled everything inside,” said Alejandra Sanchez-Flores, the general manager. “We didn’t have a bar before. Everything is new. The tables we brought in are from Jalisco, Mexico, and pretty much everything inside is new.”

Sanchez-Flores’s uncle opened the restaurant originally, selling it to her father about 10 years ago. She has been working at the restaurant even before her parents became the owners.

Some new faces to be added

The expanded space means an increase in staff, she explained. In the smaller spot, the business could be handled with two servers and two cooks, and maybe a busser.

“Now, we’re going to have five waitresses and a bartender,” said Sanchez-Flores. “We are going to add hostesses and bussers. It’s going to be an increase in staff.”

What won’t change, she explained, is the food. No menu changes are taking place. She said the restaurant is well-known for its crunchy shell tacos. On the weekends, the public flocks in for Mi Jacalito’s , a spicy Mexican soup.

“On the weekends we used to open at 8 a.m., and by 10 a.m. we were sold out,” said Sanchez-Flores. “People buy it by the gallon and half gallon.”

Everyone who dines gets free chicken noodle soup. “A lot of people say that’s why they come to the restaurant,” she added.

If YOU go to Mi Jacalito:

As the road work on Douglas Avenue continues to turn the neighborhood into a battle zone, Mi Jacalito customers should still be able to find parking at the rear on Superior Street. Sanchez-Flores said the nearby American Legion has offered its lot as well.

The new hours for the restaurant will be Monday-Thursday, 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday will be 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. Saturday hours will be 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. And on Sunday the restaurant will be open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Rex Davenport

Rex Davenport is a reporter, editor and editorial project manager with more than 40 years of experience in newspaper, business magazines and other content channels.