Easy Tiger, a new restaurant with a summer vacation vibe, is coming to the former Ojeda’s at 411 E. Riverside Blvd. in Loves Park. The goal is to open by mid May. (Photo by Kevin Haas/Rock River Current)
    By Kevin Haas
    Rock River Current
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    LOVES PARK — A new restaurant coming near the corner of Riverside Boulevard and North Second Street is designed to feel like a summer vacation in the heart of Loves Park.

    Easy Tiger is the new concept coming to 411 E. Riverside Blvd., the former home of Jalapeno Taco Grill, Ojeda’s and before that Cafe 411 and Spring Garden. Renovations are underway now with owner Brent Beehler pushing for an opening in May.

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    You may recognize Easy Tiger from the food truck that’s roamed around the area since November 2021. The brick-and-mortar restaurant will be much more than the big brother of the mobile burrito and bowl business.

    Easy Tiger will specialize in Polynesian and Latin American food, and the space is being revamped into a summertime attraction.

    There will be a 2,500-square-foot patio in the front with glass garage doors that open into the restaurant. Beehler is also adding a shipping container to the property to serve as a stage for live music and there will be garage doors on the backside of the building that open up to a sand volleyball court, he said.

    “The whole vibe and the whole feel is to make you feel like you’re on vacation, kind of a southern California vibe,” Beehler said. “When you drive by it’s going to be happening.”

    Beehler, who is also a basketball coach and a father of four, said he wants to add another family-friendly destination for post-game gatherings. It will feature a brightly colored mural on the inside and room to enjoy the outdoors when weather allows.

    “Summer is so short here, and it’s my favorite season so I really would like to be outside,” Beehler said. “I want to bring that incorporated into this place.”

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    The cuisine is in part inspired by Beehler’s Hawaiian roots. His parents hail from Kaneohe, Oahu. He said Easy Tiger will offer fresh ingredients with multiple farm-to-table options.

    You can expect to see the al pastor with marinated pork, chopped with pineapple salsa and queso fresco. There will also be shrimp and grits with corn, bacon and sweet cayenne sauce. Other items include steak elote, chicken mole, chicken teriyaki and farmer’s fried rice, to name a few. You can top any of them with house-made Tiger Sauce, a sweet and spicy jalapeno-based sauce fitting for a variety of foods.

    “It’s something a little different, but we’ll still have something everyone will like,” Beehler said.

    Chef Kenny LaMendola, who is Beehler’s partner on the food truck, is also the chef for the new restaurant.

    Easy Tiger food truck is parked outside Brent’s Barber Shop, 5611 N. Second St., in Loves Park on Tuesday, April 16, 2024. (Photo by Kevin Haas/Rock River Current)

    Beehler is also the owner of Brent’s Barber Shop, just around the corner from the restaurant at 5611 N. Second St., and Brent’s Barber Shop in Durand. He said his experience working with the city to open his barbershop in 2020 led him to pick Loves Park for his future restaurant.

    “They were really easy to work with and helpful,” he said. “My first choice was Loves Park because they were so great with the barbershop.”

    Beehler is doing much of the buildout himself, as he did with both his barbershops.

    “I really like building things, and I get a vision in my head,” he said.

    Now, he’s pushing to make that vision a reality before the summer season.

    This article is by Kevin Haas. Email him at khaas@rockrivercurrent.com or follow him on X at @KevinMHaas or Instagram @thekevinhaas and Threads @thekevinhaas

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