CHIPPEWA FALLS — With an emphasis and specialty on Mexican-style seafood, Max’s Bistro & Bar has opened in downtown Chippewa Falls.
Co-owners Max and Marilu Rivera are natives of Ixtapa, Mexico, on the Pacific Ocean. The couple run the restaurant along with their four children. Max was a fisherman when he was younger, and he worked in a kitchen at a resort there for 16 years.
“They didn’t grow up with ‘Tex-Mex;’ they grew up with seafood,” said their daughter, 24-year-old Kalinn Rivera, who works in the restaurant.
Menu items include Hawaiian swordfish, crab enchiladas, fish tacos and an ahi tuna burger. They also have traditional Mexican food; their enchiladas have quickly become a bestseller. They also offer imported beer from Mexico and fresh margaritas.
“We can make traditional Mexican dishes, with seafood instead of steak,” Max Rivera said. “The fish is coming from a company in Minneapolis. We order it two times a week.”
Max Rivera said that after he left Mexico he worked at a steakhouse in California. The family moved to La Crosse in 2000. The couple began thinking about opening their own restaurant and came across the downtown Chippewa Falls building, which was previously the home of Duncan Creek Wine Bar & Grille.
“They had been looking for quite a while,” Kalinn Rivera said. “It was the location, right in the downtown area.”
They signed a lease at the end of September and remodeled the interior, repainting walls and adding their own décor. They opened on Nov. 24 — the day after Thanksgiving.
Nelly Rivera, 33, said she got excited about opening the business because so many people would stop and knock on the door, asking questions about the restaurant in the weeks before they finally opened.
“We’re excited we’re able to share with people,” Nelly Rivera said. “We’ve been getting comments that they hadn’t tried anything like it before.”
Chippewa Falls Main Street executive director Teri Ouimette was pleased to see the building quickly filled, calling it a great location.
“Fortunately, Chippewa is the place to be,” Ouimette said. “We have a thriving downtown — it’s a bustling downtown, even at night.”
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