Mexican restaurant owner to open third location in Harrisonburg

Tequila Modern Mexican will open its second location in Harrisonburg later this year — and the third Mexican food and drink establishment that Jose Reyes and his family own in Harrisonburg. (Photo courtesy of Jose Reyes)

Jose Reyes, co-owner of Tequila Taco Bar, plans to open his third restaurant in Harrisonburg — another Tequila Modern Mexican — as early as this spring.

Last April, Tequila Modern Mexican off of Reservoir St. opened, and just short of a year later, a new location is opening near the Dayton Walmart.

The new restaurant will be at 2184 John Wayland Highway at the site of the former Skrimp Shack location.  

Reyes and other family members also own four other Tequila Modern Mexican restaurants in North Carolina, Kansas. and Maryland.

“I was raised in the restaurant industry. Times change, and I am a person that likes to take risks. What I did is something that nobody in my family used to do before,” Reyes said.

Reyes has been able to open and expand his businesses, even throughout the pandemic.

“It’s all thanks to the community,” Reyes said.

Declan McCue, a junior at JMU, spoke highly about Tequila Modern Mexican and is excited for a new location. 

“I’ve had a lot of the Mexican places in Harrisonburg, but none have compared to Tequila Modern. The food is great and they have a lot of variety that you wouldn’t find in a standard restaurant like Jalisco’s,” McCue said.

McCue said he is looking forward to visiting the new location with his roommates, a group of Mexican food lovers.

Salma Vázquez Silva, a teacher at Spotswood Elementary, complimented the accuracy of Tequila Modern Mexico as an authentic Mexican restaurant. 

“What I really enjoy about Tequila Modern Mexican is the vibe and the ambiance because as opposed to other restaurants in Harrisonburg, this one doesn’t try to scream, ‘Mexico: old town, pueblo’ vibes,” Vázquez Silva said.

Vázquez Silva said that she rarely goes to Mexican restaurants in the United States because of the false depiction of what a Mexican restaurant truly is. As someone of Mexican descent, Vázquez Silva is bothered by the “white-washed” Mexican restaurants in America. 

“That is not Mexico. And it frustrates me,” she said of other restaurants that brand themselves as being Mexican. 

Another reason that Vázquez Silva said she appreciates Tequila Modern Mexican was the staff’s attentiveness to her when she went to the restaurant on her birthday dinner. The staff ensured she was enjoying her experience throughout the night and even set up decorations like balloons at their table. 

Being the co-owner of a restaurant, especially with family-owned business, does not come without its own set of complications. As opposed to chain restaurants, such as McDonald’s, a family-owned restaurant is a business that has to figure everything out for themselves without a company doing it for them. 

“We do the work. Painting, decorations, and stuff like that,” Reyes said.

Ultimately, Reyes said he’s proud that he and his family have brought a “nicer, more modern touch to Harrisonburg.”

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