MERIDEN — The owner of Taino Smokehouse Prime says he hopes to open on East Main Street in January as workers push to put the final touches on the popular barbeque restaurant’s second location.
“We’re hoping to open within one month. That’s the game plan,” owner Christopher Szewczyk said Thursday. “...Right now we’re just hooking up the boiler, installing equipment and just working on decor stuff — lights, door handles.”
Work to open Taino Smokehouse at the old Jacoby’s location, 1388 E. Main St., began in the summer of 2016. The restaurant has taken longer to open than Szewczyk and city officials anticipated, but Szewczyk, who said in August he hoped to open in the fall, wants the final product to be worth the wait.
“It’ll probably take another six months and then I’ll look (wrong) again,” Szewczyk joked.
Szewczyk said the new location’s menu will “take it up a notch” from what’s served at the Taino Smokehouse location in Middletown, which he opened in 2012. The new location will use different cuts of meat and will use freshly made pasta for macaroni and cheese, he said for example.
The restaurant will provide indoor seating for 260 people and will have a full restaurant, bar, and marketplace areas. The menu will feature dry-aged prime steaks and smoked barbeque, and customers will also be able to purchase the homemade charcuterie, smoked meats, ice cream, canned goods, and cheese at the marketplace.
City Planner Bob Seale said he met with the owners last week to “go over the last pieces” needed to obtain a certificate of occupancy.
“They’re hoping for a January opening, but they're working on finishing up all the final details,” Seale said.
Based on what’s left to be done, Seale said opening in January is “ambitious,” but added, “they are committed and dedicated to getting this restaurant open and are excited about the future.”
The restaurant is in the process of obtaining a liquor license from the state and permits from the city health department.
Bar manager Jeremy “Happy” Gilroy said he hopes to “put out some unique cocktails.”
“I want it to be visually appealing, so we're going to start out with a lot of colors,” he said.
Taino’s kitchen will be led by award-winning chef Van Hurd, who grew up in Texas and competed in the sixth season of Gordon Ramsay's cooking competition series “Hell's Kitchen.” Hurd previously worked as executive chef of Sayulita, a popular Mexican restaurant in Glastonbury, and as a chef at Riverhouse Catering in Cheshire.