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New eateries reshaping the dining scene in St. Charles

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Karen and Noe Ortiz, owners of Mel’s Diner in Geneva and Campton Hills, didn’t have a specific location in mind for their next venture, a Mexican restaurant.

But when the former home of Brown’s Chicken and, most recently, Choo Choo’s Chicken became available on Route 38 in western St. Charles, the couple decided it would make a good spot for Santonio’s, Karen Ortiz said.

“When the opportunity comes and we see something, we usually do grab it,” she said. “It happened to be a good location.”

The St. Charles dining scene is changing as the Ortizes and other restauranteurs are developing and opening a batch of eateries throughout the city.

According to the city, nearly a dozen dining establishments have opened in recent months or plan to open along Main Street, Route 38, Prairie Street and downtown.

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