'Fun and spontaneous' – Daily Commercial

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LEESBURG — About a year and a half after it closed, the former Chili’s restaurant will have new owners and a new sign on the door: “Fun and Spontaneous Environment.”
“It’s kind of a warning,” said Rondo Fernandez, 44, who is bringing one of his Mojo Grill and Catering restaurants to the site at 9925 U.S. Highway 441 near Lake-Sumter State College. “We tend to be loud. We try to laugh as much as possible. We like to be part of the family,” he said.
“We do a lot of cool, fun entertainment,” he said of his three restaurants — two in Ocala and one in Belleview, in neighboring Marion County
The eateries serve Cuban, Cajun and American specialties, including wings. There’s live music three nights a week, plus other events, like trivia contests.
“We’re always trying to find something new,” he said. In the past, that could mean anything, including hanging a Christmas tree or the stage upside down.
Catering is important, too, whether it is for a family event, like a birthday party, or an organization.
Last year, the company fed 1,000 first-responders on Sept. 11, at every station and emergency room.
“We support law enforcement,” Fernandez said.
It also has its own foundation and partners with other restaurants to stock pantries in high schools in a program called “Feed the Need.”
“We feed about 300 kids,” he said. “When God blesses you with so much, you’ve got to give back.”
Chili’s closed its Leesburg location in September 2017 over a deadlocked negotiation over rent, a manager said at the time.
The property, with its 5,711-square-foot building, has changed hands twice since then, most recently in October, when it was purchased by Spirit Realty of Dallas, Texas, for $800,000, according to Lake County Property Appraiser’s records.
Construction workers are giving the building a new look, but the interior is in good shape, including the kitchen, Fernandez said.
Fernandez is cautious about offering an opening date but he said he would like to open by St. Patrick’s Day in March.
“Knowing us, it’ll probably be April Fool’s Day,” he said.
He said he will need to hire between 80 and 100 people.


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