A new gallery and lounge has emerged in Peoria’s Warehouse District showcasing specialty drinks and local artwork. Seeking to a create a Latin-inspired space that reflects their heritage, Arturo and Carla Vargas recently opened Casa de Arte at 1227 SW Adams Street.
“Although our target market is Latinos… we want to be the most multicultural place in Peoria—where everyone will feel welcome,” says Arturo, who grew up on Peoria’s south side and notes that there weren’t many places for Latinos to hang out. “When most people think of Mexican businesses, they think of restaurants,” he adds. “We want to show that there is more to our culture than just the food.”
An artist himself, Arturo wants the space to serve as a gallery for local artists and to encourage local Hispanic artists to display their work. He chose the Warehouse District for all of the positive changes happening in the area. “We hope it will be the new, trendy part of town—and we hope to add to that,” he explains. “While we were in contract to buy the building, the City of Peoria started to replace sidewalks and streets, which gave our building a whole new light.”
Working with the Small Business Development Center at Bradley University’s Turner Center for Entrepreneurship, Arturo was able to secure an SBA loan from Morton Community Bank. He also credits Peoria City Council member Denise Moore for helping him obtain a liquor license.
“Our goal is to open our commercial kitchen and serve food in the lounge,” Arturo notes. “The last couple of summers we teamed up with Tianguis Mexican outdoor market and made a variety of street tacos. Our customers fell in love with our tacos and wanted to know where they could get them all year long. So in the spring of 2019, look forward to seeing a wild art gallery that sells art, tacos and tequila!”
Casa de Arte is open to the public primarily on weekends, while hosting private parties during the week. For more information, visit casadearte1227.com or call (309) 839-2535. a&s