MERIDEN — Tacos Mi Nacho owner Luis Lemus spent the past 15 years leasing space for his restaurants, but he will soon have a newly built restaurant to call his own.
The new building, under construction at 562 Broad St., is just north of the original Tacos Mi Nacho location in a small plaza at 550 Broad St. The original location remains open until the planned move into the new building.
The new restaurant is 3,500 square feet compared to the 1,800 square-foot space currently operating.
Lemus said while the new restaurant does not have an opening date yet, he expects construction to be completed early next year.
Lemus also operates a Tacos Mi Nacho location in Southington. That location opened in January in a former Blimpie sandwich shop at 1796 Meriden-Waterbury Turnpike.
“We’re happy to continue to work. We’re working hard with both restaurants. We are not in a rush,” he said. “We’re taking it day by day and enjoying every part of the journey.”
The Mexican eatery is expected to include a bar, outside seating area and an indoor dining area. It will seat between 80 and 100 people. The current restaurant has just six tables, Lemus said, making it cramped for customers and employees.
“What is more important to me is the comfort of the clients. I am anxious because this place is a lot bigger, we are hoping to get more personnel too,” he said.
Lemus has been living in Meriden for 30 years and would like to help improve the neighborhood with the addition of the new stand-alone restaurant. His family works at the Meriden business and lives a short drive away, on Collins Avenue.
In a previous interview, Lemus told the Record-Journal he got into the restaurant industry by luck.
After being laid off from his construction job, Lemus was washing his clothes at the laundromat next door when he noticed the restaurant space, previously occupied by a pizzeria, was empty.
"I never planned it, but it came out this way," Lemus said.
With additional space, Lemus said he will add more Mexican dishes to the menus, along with a more comfortable dining area for customers.Right opportunity
Lemus has wanted to expand the Meriden restaurant for six years, but multiple plans fell through.
In 2018, he struck a deal with the city to purchase a city-owned lot at 69 E. Main St., however, an environmental cleanup of the site found contaminated soil, so the project fell through.
Lemus at one point looked into opening a new location on the first floor of the newly constructed Meriden Commons I mixed-use apartment building downtown, however, he learned that wasn't possible due to a lack of parking spaces.
He began considering building a new location next to his current site a few years back after the owner of a nearby multi-unit residential home, located in between the restaurant's current and future site, reached out to Lemus offering the property to him for an expansion.
Lemus purchased and razed the home to make room for parking, and also purchased the adjacent empty lot from the city.Patient, thankful
Cecilia Beltran has been working at Tacos Mi Nacho for five years.
“I feel good for all of us. I am especially happy for the owners. They deserve this and the clients are looking for a place that is more comfortable,” Beltran said.
Lemus co-owns the restaurant with his wife Claudia Sanchez.
While the owners are patient for the building to finish, they continue to be thankful for the opportunity to expand.
“I am happy with all that we have done,” Sanchez said. “I am thankful to the customers. We wouldn't have been able to do it without them.”