Opening date of new Mexican restaurant Fiesta Tapatia unknown
Patricia Quiroz estimates she has 70 unread Facebook messages from clients all asking the same thing – when Tapatia Festival will open in its new location?
“That’s question #1,” co-owner Quiroz said. “And, unfortunately, we still don’t have an answer to that.”
Six months ago, the owners of the local Mexican restaurant said they were forced to close their business at its longtime Mishawaka location ahead of schedule due to a water leak. At this time, plans to move three miles north into the former Charming Charlie space at Granger Heritage Square were already on the move after their former owner informed restorers of the plans to sell the property to make way for a new service station. The building at 119 W. McKinley Ave. has since been demolished and construction of the gas station is still ongoing.
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Since then, the operators have focused their energy on transforming the 5,800 square foot space at 7321 Heritage Square Drive that once served as space for a national retailer but has since been fitted out for the local restaurant.
“We started at the bottom and it took a long time to build,” Quiroz said. (We built) the walls, the floor, the kitchen, the bathrooms, everything.”
Although able to serve double the capacity, Quiroz said, they wanted to provide the same cozy atmosphere as the old location. The new restaurant space still has the same decorative tables and chairs depicting famous Latin scenes and characters, as well as large room dividers with rounded windows and decorative light fixtures. A new bar, which will serve beer, wine and mixed drinks such as margaritas, has been added to the restaurant and a private room for large parties has also been built.
As most of the construction is complete, the odd numbered items essential to restaurant operations have taken longer than expected to arrive. Quiroz said supply chain issues caused delays in receiving basic items such as silverware, table bases, signs and awnings.
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The delay also hampered the owners’ opening plans.
Originally slated for December, the restaurant’s opening now hinges on the arrival of a new hot food steam table which is used to keep ingredients like beans, rice and pulled chicken warm. Quiroz said the equipment was ordered months ago, but they still don’t know when it will arrive.
“That’s what’s holding us back. We can’t open without it, we can’t do inspections without it,” Quiroz said. “So we have pretty much everything (the rest) ready. We have decorations coming in from Mexico next week, but other than that, you know, we’re ready to be open.”
Interest in opening the restaurant’s new location has grown as the planned December opening has come and gone. Quiroz said she has already received large party reservations for April and catering orders for spring and summer graduations. They do not accept reservations for the opening day to be determined.
Quiroz said once the equipment arrives, they can hire more staff and schedule two weeks of training for everyone to acclimatize. Once open, the focus will be on catering service, with take-out orders temporarily unavailable while operations in the new space are smoothed out over the first few weeks. In light of the new omicron COVID variant, she said, they will make the necessary decisions and actions to ensure staff and customers remain healthy.
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The menu of dishes will remain the same, with some new platter options. Quiroz said prices rose slightly due to higher ingredient costs from suppliers. Rent in Heritage Square is also expensive, Quiroz said his father Rodolfo, who also owns the restaurant, was nervous about that side of the business.
“I try to reassure him that we’ve been in business for 20 years, people have known us for 20 years,” said Patricia Quiroz. “They know our food, they know our service, they know our quality. And, in that regard, hopefully we’ll stay busy enough to be able to pay rent.”
But after being closed for six months and using life savings to fund the project, the finish line is in sight for the owners.
“We’re so anxious and a little nervous,” Quiroz said. “But we’re more than ready to be open and see our wonderful customers and get back to the old life a bit.”
Contact Mary Shown at 574-235-6244 and [email protected] Follow her on Twitter: @maryshownSBT and @marketbasketSBT.