NEW MILFORD — Don’t judge this restaurant by its cover.

The entrance to El Coyote in Lore’s Plaza along Route 7 makes the establishment appear to be a humble little restaurant with a few tables and chairs. Walk inside, however, and you’ll find 4,800 square feet of space with seating for 150 people, a large bar area, colorful murals on the walls and a stuffed coyote named after the owner’s father, who died last summer.

Rolando Axilote opened El Coyote in October. It is his third restaurant in Connecticut, all named El Coyote. He opened his first restaurant in Monroe in 2003 and the second in Brookfield in 2012.

“There aren’t a lot of Mexican restaurants in this area so I figured it was a good location. I didn’t plan to open another one, but the landlord’s wife ate at my Brookfield restaurant and let me know of the opening here,” Axilote said. “It has nice size and a big bar.”

New Milford’s Economic Development Director Kevin Bielmeier said the restaurant has a unique recipe for success.

“We are thrilled to have El Coyote in New Milford,” he said. “The Axilote family has an established track record with three other locations, and have brought their receipe for success blending authentic Mexican food, great service and atmosphere, with a dash of community engagement. We’re happy to have them.”

Axilote’s brother Carlos opened the first El Coyote in Jamaica, Queens, in 1998.

“We’ve always just kept that name,” he said. “I’m not even sure how he came up with it.”

Running the three restaurants is a family affair as Axilote’s brother is a business partner, his sister is the main chef at Brookfield and New Milford and his brother-in-law is the main chef in Monroe. A large painted mural in the New Milford restaurant shows his family as a mariachi band in a desert scene.

“No one even knows how to play an instrument, but hey, it’s fun,” Axilote said of the mural.

Axilote said one of the keys to success for his restaurants is having a menu with unique options. He said his sister cooks “just like you were in Mexico. It’s very authentic.” He also attracts customers with entertainment such as DJs, live music and happy hours.

“It’s Mexicano and more. We offer more than burritos, tacos and enchiladas,” he said. “We have different steaks and seafood dishes. We try to be different than the typical Mexican place.”

The three El Coyote restaurants in Connecticut employ a total of 36 people. The new location in New Milford is the largest.

Axilote came to the U.S. from Mexico when he was 16 years old. He’s been in the restaurant business since 1984.

“A lot of people are looking for a better future, more opportunities,” he said. “It’s a sacrifice — you work hard and work hard. Twenty years go by maybe you see the results. I’m fortunate.”; 203-731-3338