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Northwest Side Restaurant Owner Returns Home 4 Months After Critical Motorcycle Crash

Jaime Cianca, owner of Tuxpan Mexican Grill in Gladstone Park, suffered brain damage in the Skokie crash in May. He faces a long recovery but has steadily improved in recent months, his family said.

Jaime Cianca returned home Sept. 15 after spending months in a hospital and in rehab following a traumatic motorcycle crash in May.
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GLADSTONE PARK — A beloved chef and his family are thanking Northwest Siders who supported them as he recovered from a motorcycle crash in May.

Jaime Cianca, owner of Tuxpan Mexican Grill at 5540 N. Milwaukee Ave. #1227, returned home last week after spending about three months in the hospital and one month in a rehab center following a critical motorcycle crash that left him with brain and nerve damage, his family said.

Shortly after the crash, Cianca’s family launched a GoFundMe to help pay for the mounting medical bills and general expenses. It’s raised over $23,000 — enough to cover the medical costs and support the family, said his wife, Mary Colin.

“The support from the community has been marvelous,” Colin said Monday. “The money has helped pay for family expenses and getting ahead with life so far.”

She and her family want to thank everyone who has donated, reached out to them and sent well wishes.

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Tuxpan Mexican Grill, 5540 N. Milwaukee Ave #1227, in Gladstone Park, has been a neighborhood staple for 12 years.

Cianca was riding his motorcycle at Central and Touhy Avenues in suburban Skokie in May when a driver slammed into him, according to his family and police.

During the pandemic, the couple struggled financially and had to cut some expenses. Health insurance was the first to go, Colin previously told Block Club.

Cianca underwent multiple surgeries and extensive physical and speech therapy to regain his motor functions, and he will need more at-home therapy and care, Colin said. He is in a wheelchair but can speak again, his wife said.

Family members, neighbors and friends gathered at the family’s Gladstone Park home Sept. 15 to welcome him back. His arrival was documented on Facebook to further express gratitude to the community for everyone’s support in the last few months, Colin said.

While she’s slightly overwhelmed with the added care responsibilities and more therapy in her husband’s future, she is grateful he is alive, she said.

“I am happy he’s alive and that he [is] finally home after four months,” she said.

Cianca’s brother-in-law, Anthony Longo, also updated those who donated to the fundraiser page about his home arrival and condition, including a photo of Cianca and some of his family.

“Your prayers saved his life. Your donations financed his recovery,” Longo wrote. “You came through for us and we will not forget it.”

It’s too soon to say when he will be able to walk again and get back to cooking, but he can’t wait to get back to the restaurant, Colin said.

With a passion for cooking and serving the community, Cianca opened Tuxpan Mexican Grill 12 years ago and has gained a steady following for his food.

The couple, who have three children, also operate Fiesta en Tuxpan in Skokie, which closed for a few months after the crash but has since reopened, Colin said. The Chicago location did not close during that time, thanks to the “amazing” team running the restaurant, Colin said.

Cianca’s family has called him a selfless community member who always helps others. The couple has donated to food to various neighborhood causes and events, such as delivering meals to first responders at the Jefferson Park (16th) Police District station, health care workers during the height of the pandemic and fundraisers at Resurrection College Prep, where one of their daughters went to school.

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