GRAND RAPIDS — Barrio, a Cleveland-based taco chain with multiple locations in Michigan, is expected to open this spring on the first floor of the historic Helmer Building in downtown Grand Rapids.
Roughly $1 million in renovations to the 4,600-square-foot space at 37 Ottawa Ave. NW began about two months ago, franchisee Jake Hawley told MiBiz. Hawley owns Barrio’s forthcoming Grand Rapids location as well as the restaurant’s other Michigan locations in East Lansing and Traverse City. The Cleveland-based restaurant chain currently has 12 locations in Ohio, Michigan, New Hampshire and Massachusetts.
“We love this location,” Hawley said of Grand Rapids. “Being in the entertainment district with everything that goes on at the arena and with the concert venue next door, we love the energy of this particular spot. The historical building was a blank canvas for us to build the restaurant of our dreams. There is also a really cool patio space that we have access to, so it checked a lot of boxes.”
Barrio’s menu features a build-your-own taco section as well as 100 different tequilas, craft cocktails and a range of whiskey. The Grand Rapids Planning Commission is considering at its Feb. 24 meeting a special land use approval for the restaurant to serve alcohol.
The restaurant will be able to seat 130 people inside and an additional 60 people on its 1,000-square-foot patio. A garage door will be installed to connect the restaurant to the patio, Hawley said. A team of artists based in Cleveland are traveling to Grand Rapids to paint murals inside of the restaurant to add to its lively aesthetic.
“We’re excited to open,” Hawley said. “It’s a unique concept for the city. We focus on fresh, bold flavors at an affordable price. Our atmosphere is high energy, a really lively dining experience.”
Construction Simplified has managed the renovations of the ground floor space for Barrio. Building owner CWD Real Estate Investment Inc. previously wrapped up a major restoration and renovation of the building in 2019.
Hawley expects to hire 60 to 80 people for Barrio’s Grand Rapids location.