Originally published by Erin Hegarty of the Chicago Tribune
Rapper Kanye West visited Pepe’s Mexican Restaurant in Naperville on Thursday and after dining played pool at the restaurant’s bar, known as “The Can.”
West came in to the 1272 E. Chicago Ave. restaurant with eight bodyguards and three other people about 2:30 p.m., said Sandy Rocush, owner of the franchised restaurant and a fan of the rapper.
“We didn’t know he was coming, but (someone he was with) said he was in the area and that he’s loved Pepe’s food his entire life,” Rocush said. “He came into the restaurant to order lunch, and we have an employee who’s worked here for 39 years who was serving him.”
People in the restaurant recognized him immediately. “The eight bodyguards kind of helped too,” Rocush said.
Refugio “Ref” Zamora said he has worked at the Naperville Pepe’s restaurant for 39 years and took West’s order. “He was just like any other customer — very humble and nice,” Zamora, still visibly excited about West’s visit.
West ordered three of the restaurant’s chicken stuffed tacos before taking photos with customers and heading to The Cantina, or “The Can,” to play pool. He stayed in the restaurant for about an hour and a half, Rocush said.
“He was great. He was so classy and he took pictures with customers,” Rocush said. “It’s amazing how down to earth he is.”
Rocush said the restaurant wasn’t crowded when West arrived because it was an off time. But customers started texting friends and posting West’s whereabouts on social media, Rocush said. People were still coming into the restaurant after West left asking if he was there.
Bartender Beth Hein was working in The Cantina when West arrived. “I was surprised, thinking like, what was he doing here,” said Hein, who was worked at The Cantina for about four years.
West played a relaxed game of pool with three or four other people and didn’t order any drinks from the bar, Hein said.
Before leaving, West was interviewed by a local student for an article in Naperville North High School’s newspaper, Rocush said.
“He was a wonderful customer,” Rocush said. “I feel so complimented.”
While Pepe’s phones have been busy, Thursday night business in the restaurant and bar continued pretty regularly, Rocush said.
It’s unclear why West was in the area. West and his wife, Kim Kardashian, have three children, North, Saint, and Chicago West. On Jan. 19, the city of Naperville tweeted: “We’re not technically Chicago west, or West Chicago, but we think Chicago West would love our western Chicago suburb. Kanye and Kim could take her on a stroller ride along our Riverwalk. Bring North and Saint along, too. #ChicagoWest”
Lead image via The Can Pepe’s Cantina
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