INVICTO, a Mexican street food inspired restaurant, is coming to Mellody Farm in Vernon Hills

Free tacos, treats and a seven-piece mariachi band will be on the menu Thursday for the opening of another restaurant at the Mellody Farm retail center in Vernon Hills.

INVICTO is described as a retro market stand featuring authentic and inspired Mexican street food. It opened its first location last fall in Naperville and plans to open next year in Chicago and multiple unnamed locations in the future.

This will be the second INVICTO and the eighth in a wide-ranging mix of restaurants to open at Mellody Farm, which debuted in October at Route 60 (Townline Road) and Route 21 (Milwaukee Avenue).

Mellody Farm is designed to provide an urban retail experience, noted Franklin Wiener, a partner in Venture Kitchen, which operates INVICTO as well as Blackwood BBQ.

The fourth Blackwood BBQ opened last week next to the Willis Tower in Chicago. Two more are planned this summer in Schaumburg and at the Merchandise Mart.

Wiener said INVICTO has been very successful in Naperville and he is encouraged by customer response to the brand.

"Vernon Hills has embraced a wide spectrum of restaurants but we saw an opportunity to bring something entirely new to the community," Wiener said.

The concept originated with Weiner and David Sloan, who previously were involved with Naf Naf Grill, a fast-casual Middle Eastern restaurant that opened in Naperville in 2010, That has since been sold to a private equity firm.

INVICTO features Tijuana-style tacos, Mexican-inspired shakes and fries as well as cemitas, a sandwich known for sesame speckled crusty bread, and Sonoran dogs, a style of bacon-wrapped hot dog that originated in Hermosillo, Mexico.

"INVICTO is intended to transport people to another time and place," according to Wiener. "The concept proves that in our digital-first world people are seeking concepts that provide more than amazing food but a transportive and interactive experience."

Also coming this year to Mellody Farm are Shake Shack, Buttermilk Cafe, City Works Eatery and Pour House and Fairgrounds Craft Coffee and Tea. They will join INVICTO, Lazy Dog Restaurant & Bar, Kuma's Corner, B. GOOD, Cafe Zupas, Next Door American Eatery, roti Modern Mediterranean and City Barbecue and Catering.

Mellody Farm is expected to be fully leased by fall, when it will offer at least 13 restaurants.

"Collaborating with the community from the get-go is one way Mellody Farm's leasing team mines what residents want to experience," said Adam Foret, senior leasing agent for Regency Centers, which owns and operates the $200 million development.

"Restaurants, both local favorites and national concepts, have been receptive to this approach," he said.

INVICTO a taqueria in Naperville is opening a second location Thursday at Mellody Farm retail center in Vernon Hills. Courtesy of Venture Kitchen
INVICTO, a taqueria that debuted last fall in Naperville, is opening a second location Thursday in Vernon Hills. Courtesy of Venture Kitchen
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