Magic food now served at Caboose Park in downtown Perry

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Cutting the ribbon on El Tren Mexican restaurant Thursday morning were Jose Calderon, in the purple shirt, his brother, Ignacio Calderon, with the apron, and several Calderon family members. Holding the ribbon for the ceremony were Rosa Gonzalez, left, family specialist with Iowa State University Extension and Outreach, and Chrissy Von Behren- Danger, right, vice president of the Perry-Area Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors.


The latest addition to the range of Perry restaurants opened Thursday morning in Caboose Park when the Calderon brothers of Perry hosted a ribbon cutting at their new business, El Mago.

El Mago is the Spanish word for Magician — also related to the word for wise man, as in the three Magi who visit at Christmastime — and the tacos and enchiladas served by Ignacio and Jose Calderon do taste magical, as about 40 well wishers and Perry-Area Chamber of Commerce members learned at the ribbon cutting.

“We want to thank everyone, God first of all, for coming here today and making this possible,” said Jose Calderon to the assembly.

Fr. Chris Reising, the new pastor at St. Patrick Catholic Church in Perry, was on hand to bless the new business both inside and out.

The restaurant will run as a family affair, with Jose and his wife and two children and Ignacio and his wife and five children all pitching in to serve a variety of Mexican dishes. The brothers work opposite shifts at Tyson Fresh Meats, so they plan to keep El Mago open long hours during the summer.

The $1 tacos will especially appeal to diners on a budget.

Grant Eklund of Perry, who with his mother, Jenny Eklund, operated Gep’s out of the caboose since 2008. Grant Eklund opened the business when he was 10, and it is a “bittersweet” feeling to see the business change hands, Jenny Eklund said Thuirsday at the ribbon cutting.

“We’ll miss it,” Eklund said. “On the Fourth of July, Grant and I were saying how we felt like we should still be down here working our tails off. That was always such a busy day. But I’m so happy to see the Calderon family take it. They have some great ideas, and I know El Mago will be a big success.”

Eklund said they chose the name Gep’s for the hot dog and sno-cone stand in honor of Hans Goeppinger, a Boone man who sold popcorn on the busy downtown corner. The initials of the name also stood for Grant Eklund’s Perry Snacks, she said.

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