AURORA – It’s a first of its kind not only in the area but in the state of Illinois, an authentic Bolivian restaurant. Husband and wife duo, Oscar and Alice Butron are bringing what they describe as a new concept of flavors from South America through their dishes at Alice’s Corner.
They started in farmers’ markets 10 years ago and were finally able to open their storefront last year along Restaurant Row in Downtown Aurora, at 37 West New York Street.
It’s their golden brown, perfectly formed, generously stuffed empanadas that gave their business its booming popularity when they began selling at the Aurora Farmers Market and the French Market in Downtown Geneva.
Oscar walks us through the process while explaining how it was all a side gig for him and Alice while she worked in a factory, and he managed a fast-food restaurant for 25 years.
While empanadas can be found around the world, especially in Latin America, the Butron’s process is a little different. They form and then deep fry their empanadas.
“My wife, I remember at that time she said, ‘I want to quit that job’,” said Oscar. “I said ‘quit’ because I can support my house and everything.”
And that’s when they both decided to give it their all – hosting long lines at farmers markets with people coming from near and far for their product.
With help from the city, the Butrons were able to finally open their storefront last August.
On their one-year anniversary, Aurora officials celebrated the milestone with the raising of the Bolivian flag.
According to the 2020 U.S. Census, there were more than 2,500 Bolivians living in Illinois.
Currently, Oscar says there are about 20 Bolivian families in Aurora.
But regardless of how big or how small the physical presence of the community may be, for the Butron’s it’s about bringing a piece of their country to the area through a variety of dishes.
Dishes that the couple makes from scratch with help from their six employees are meant to transport people to the central South American country.
The Butron’s have also included items on their menu that cater to the melting pot of Hispanics in the city like tamales, stuffed yuca and passion fruit tea known as maracuya. Uniquely specific products that have gained interest with returning and new customers.
So, what’s next for this unique restaurant?
“Probably we will put another restaurant in Geneva and then we will go to the city [Chicago],” says Oscar.
Oscar refers to them as goals that he and his wife dreamt of when they first arrived in Aurora 32 years ago, yearning for the traditional dishes served in their country while chasing the American dream.
“We feel happy, blessed for this restaurant,” says Oscar. “And I say thanks to God for everything. And thank you, thank you for everything.”