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Pilsen, Little Village, Back of the Yards

Pilsen Restaurant Owner Accused Of Punching Another Cantón Regio Employee: ‘I’m Not Proud’

Last year, Daniel Gutierrez Jr. faced similar allegations from another employee but claimed he was acting in self-defense. This time, he said he was provoked.

Cantón Regio was closed down by the city for operating without a license or a valid corporation.
Mauricio Peña/ Block Club Chicago
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PILSEN — The owner of a popular Pilsen restaurant is facing battery charges after allegedly attacking one of his employees last week — and it’s not the first time he’s been accused of battering his workers.

Daniel Gutierrez Jr., the owner of Cantón Regio and whose family owned Pilsen’s famed shuttered Nuevo Leon restaurant, was arrested Sept. 24 in the 1800 block of South Laflin Street after he allegedly kicked and punched a 52-year-old man in the 1500 block of West 18th Street, said Kellie Bartoli, a police spokeswoman. He was charged with one misdemeanor count of battery the same day, Bartoli said.

Following the incident, the victim had a laceration to his upper lip, police said.

In an interview with Block Club, Gutierrez confirmed an incident took place on the steps of the restaurant at 1510 W. 18th St. The owner said he was provoked by an “intoxicated” employee who remained on the restaurant’s steps an hour after clocking out from his shift.

Gutierrez, 48, said he approached the employee about some incomplete work. The employee became “verbally angry,” he said.

During the heated exchange, Gutierrez slapped the employee three times, he said, but he denied punching or kicking the employee.

“I’m not proud of the incident … . I should not have touched him,” he said. “I was provoked and I think I was targeted.”

NBC5 first reported Gutierrez’s arrest. 

Last year, Gutierrez faced a similar allegation when another employee said the owner punched him at the restaurant. 

RELATED: Cantón Regio Owner Accused Of Brutally Attacking Employee in Pilsen

At 11 p.m. Aug. 22, 2018, police responded to a report of battery at the restaurant. A 44-year-old man told officers he had been drinking at work and was caught by his boss who became angry and struck him, Bartoli said.

As the employee attempted to leave, his boss continued to punch him while on the ground, he told police. The man had visible swelling and bruising but declined medical attention, Bartoli said.

Following the incident, Gabriela Nieves posted photos of her battered stepfather, Guadalupe Vera, on Facebook.

Nieves said the attack began when Gutierrez arrived at the restaurant at 9 or 10 p.m. and saw beer bottles or cans in a kitchen area of the restaurant. Gutierrez asked who the beer belonged to, and Vera denied the beer belonged to him.

“He told him, ‘I don’t know. It’s not mine, it’s not mine,’” Vera told Block Club last year.

Gutierrez then asked Vera, whose shift had ended, to meet him in the basement, Nieves said.

Once in the basement, Gutierrez grabbed and hit Vera several times, Nieves said. The owner then told him to grab his belongings and leave the restaurant. 

Gutierrez denied the account and said “most of the story was fabricated.” The owner confirmed he confronted an employee last year who was intoxicated on the job but said he was attacked and acted in self-defense.

“I defended myself,” he said.

No arrest was made at the time. 

On Monday afternoon, the Chicago Police Department said it is ready to move forward with the 2018 case pending the victim’s participation in the summons process, Bartoli said.

Mexican steakhouse Cantón Regio opened in January 2016 after beloved Mexican restaurant Nuevo Leon, also owned by the Gutierrez family, burned down across the street.

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