All of the recipes and special seasonings you enjoy at Casa Rodriguez began in a one-room, self-standing kitchen located in China, Nuevo León, Mexico. It had a dirt floor, no running water or electricity and the smells of food cooking from the chiminea filled the air along with the warm coals that made the magic happen.
One of 16 siblings and the daughter of Victor and Juanita (Cantu) González, Ignacia “Nacha,” would work alongside her mother in that very kitchen learning how to prepare all of the family dishes. Juanita cooked with hands of love, which developed not only wonderful flavors but a high expectation of how the dish would be served. She passed these traditions on to her daughters. Little did Nacha know that many years later, she would bring those recipes and expectations to Ohio to start a restaurant.
When Nacha was in her teens, it was time for her to travel to Ohio and work in the fields. That is where she met her future husband, Tolentino “Tino” Rodriguez. They were married on August 12, 1957, settled in Celina and became the parents of four children: Tom, Tino, Margaret, and Sophia.
In 1971, the Mexican America United, a non-profit organization had a taco stand at the county fair. It was there that these home-grown recipes were introduced to the area. After people experienced the tastes of Mexico, there were many requests for Nacha and Tino to open a Mexican restaurant in town. The couple did a lot of thinking and decided to go to the bank for a loan. This was something completely new to the area, but the banker believed in the Rodriguez family and gave them a chance.
In 1981, Casa Rodriguez Mexican Restaurant opened its doors. The original building was located in downtown Celina at the corner of Main and East Warren Streets. After five years and many meals, in 1986, it was time to move to a new location which is the current site at 202 West Logan Street.
Both Tino and Nacha believe in giving others opportunities just like that banker did many years ago. They give people jobs and help others whenever possible. They wholeheartedly believe that your history is their history. The restaurant has seen births, engagements, deaths, divorces, retirements, and many other events and celebrations throughout the years.
When you visit Casa Rodriguez, you are part of the family. It’s a place where you can feel safe and will always have a place to sit, relax, visit, and enjoy a good meal.