EAST CHICAGO, Indiana | Are you looking for some authentic Mexican food? Want something so crazy good that you would have to travel to the White House to get it? Well, looks like you will have to! Casa Blanca or White House in English is the place to satisfy your tastebuds and is only located right over the Indiana and Illinois border in Northwest Indiana.
Located at the intersection of Chicago Avenue and Indianapolis Boulevard, the famous Casa Blanca stands and with a reputation that has yet to fade away from people from Northwest Indiana. Manuel Tellez owner and founder of Casa Blanca has brought authenticity not only to the city of East Chicago but to the entire region. With a simple concept of keeping everything the same, clean, and bona fide he has landed a mark as one of the top Latino business men of the area. Not many Mexican restaurants can compare themselves to the Casa Blanca. A two story building with a club scene located in the lowest level, a sit down banquet type of dinning with an open bar that resembles a sports bar, and another banquet/dance hall at the top floor. These were all the ideas that Manuel Tellez had flowing in his head when he decided to open the Casa Blanca. This well-known structure will forever be known as the home of Mexican dinning and for others its their home that has been open over 30 years.
“Our generous service makes our guest feel right at home and that is why I believe people continue to come back and also invite other friends,” said Manuel. The Casa Blanca has been around for over 30 years, and has stood put in East Chicago, Indiana. The Mexico City native had many dreams of becoming an owner of a business but never thought in all his years that Casa Blanca would be as popular and if not the most popular Mexican restaurant in Northwest Indiana. Manuel began his journey in Chicago in 1971 then later moved to East Chicago where he opened up Supermercado Mexico and Restaurante El Tapatio. Manuel’s Supermercado type of business kept him in the loop with his people and thus giving him the courage to finally begin a much bigger and professional business. “My early business years, the Mercado was always the bigger part of the business, and the restaurant was just a side thing. We would sell small tacos for 41 cents and just leave it at that, but then we noticed that people were wanting more and more. I took that into consideration and said maybe its time to have a Mexican restaurant and have that my main business and have a Supermercado as the secondary business.” Manuel would soon begin laying out blueprints of his future ideas of the Casa Blanca and would soon strike gold.
It has been 30 years later and the same quality, the same great taste, the same great hospitality, the same great service is still there. “Our menus have not changed, we keep our dishes with the same taste that you had when you fell in love with it the first time. If we get a shipment of meat in and we notice that it is not the same quality as the meat we have been using for the past 30 years then we call up our suppliers and let them know. We have more options on our menu for our customers to choose from than other Mexican restaurants and I believe that is what separates us from them. It is a whole different atmosphere from when you walk outside and into our home here, said Manuel. “It sometimes feels like customers do not even care about the price, they just come in and tell us their order and when they receive their food the look on their face is priceless and as a business owner that is all I can ask for.”
“For as much time I am away from home and here making sure the business stays under control and always in full swing, I can say that I am happy. I don’t really have time to relax because half the time I am trying my best to make sure other people are satisfied before I can say I am. I suppose that is how us Mexican people are, and possibly that’s why we are so successful in the entrepreneur position. My philosophy is to assure our customers receive the best quality of food, service, and respect. Many of local Mexican business owners would tell you the same exact thing, it is in our blood to work hard, and be determined to succeed.”
Manuel has been with the same team for over 30 years, and two people can back that up; Luz Herrera and her sister Leticia Salinas. “This is my home away from home, said Leticia. The team compiled of Herrera, Tellez, and Salinas has turned Casa Blanca into one of the most eminent restaurants of the Chicagoland and Northwest Indiana area, just ask the four families from Hammond who have been coming to Casa Blanca for over 10 years, (Photo Above) “The food is fantastic and the service is outstanding.” According to Manuel 80% of his customers are non hispanic and that tells a lot about his business. “When you can reach out to other ethnicities on a consistent daily basis I think you are doing your job,” Manuel said.