A couple whose family focus includes naming their Mexican restaurants after their daughter has chosen downtown Columbus as the home for their third location.

Alberto and Sarah Bravo, Indianapolis, received approval Monday from the Columbus Redevelopment Commission to take over the lease for the former Jordy McTaggart’s Grill & Pub, which closed in January.

The couple plans to open their third Luciana’s Mexican Restaurant and Cantina inside The Commons after investing $250,000 to $300,000 to renovate the facility and add new equipment, they said. The Bravos, who are not seeking any financial support from the city for the project, will take over the remaining seven years on the Jordy McTaggart lease.

The restaurant will be the only Mexican food restaurant in the downtown area, tucked between The Commons playground and Subway on one side and Puccini’s Smiling Teeth Pizza & Pasta on the other.

They operate two other Luciana’s locations in Indianapolis, the first which opened in Broad Ripple in September 2015, followed by a location on 82nd Street near the Keystone at the Crossing shopping center.

Alberto Bravo said this third expansion is all the couple is focusing on now — particularly since the uniqueness of Columbus provides a special opportunity to showcase their family restaurant menu, style and quality.

“We think this is going to be our best one yet,” he said.

The couple asked for 90 days to do renovations necessary to transform the former Irish pub to create a cantina-like decor.

They charmed redevelopment commissioners when asked for the date when the new restaurant might open.

Although 90 days would put the opening at around Aug. 1, Alberto Bravo asked that perhaps it could be Aug. 2, the couple’s wedding anniversary. The commission agreed to the additional day to honor the request.

The property, at 310 Washington St., has been vacant since January, when Jordy’s shut its doors after operating an Irish pub for nearly three years.

Jordy’s opened in May 2014 in space that had previously been occupied by Scotty’s Burger Joint and then briefly by the Detour American Grille & Bar, each leasing the 5,510-square-foot space from the redevelopment commission.

Tim Rohrer and Dave Baker, Jordy McTaggart’s founders, had sold Jordy’s to Mark Wilcox and his father Richard in 2015, after investing about $500,000 in property improvements in the buildout for the new pub.

In June 2016, the city learned Jordy’s was behind $21,000 in back rent, utilities, property taxes and late fees. Just before the restaurant closed, the city determined the restaurant had remained in arrears, owing about $15,300 in back rent, property taxes and utilities, city records showed.

The original lease for Rohrer and Baker was a monthly rent of $5,051.75 or $60,621 a year, according to lease documents signed by the city prior to Jordy’s opening.

Although the Wilcoxes were the new owners in 2015, Lienhoop said Rohrer and Baker had provided a guarantee on the lease and remained bound by that agreement despite the Wilcoxes’  decision to close the restaurant, Lienhoop said.

The city gave Rohrer and Baker an opportunity to find a new tenant, and Rohrer brought Luciana’s owners to the redevelopment commission, saying he had heard about them through restaurant contacts and thought they would be a good fit.

At Monday’s meeting, Rohrer congratulated the couple and said he was happy for them.

“They are great people, and they can take a situation and make it a winner, Rohrer said. “I know in the food business, they are awesome operators. They are the right fit for the downtown.”

Redevelopment commission president Sarah Cannon, commission member Al Rosczcyk and redevelopment director Heather Pope decided to try out the Luciana’s 82nd Street location prior to Monday’s meeting and said all the descriptions provided by the couple of their restaurants and menu were accurate.

Promising fresh, quality ingredients and fast service, Cannon said the three had great food and service and were out in 45 minutes for lunch, which is what the couple said they promised at their two restaurants in Indianapolis.

Alberto Bravo said he had worked in a variety of roles in restaurants, including clearing tables, doing dishes and serving customers and over the years has learned what customers like, focusing on those dishes on the menu. Most lunch items range from $5 to $9 and dinner items up to about $14.

He told the redevelopment commission that while the menu is simple and filled with family favorites, the restaurant is comfortable cooking up a request if a customer wants something not on the menu.

“We focus on high quality,” he said. “It’s simple. If we don’t have it, we’ll make it for you.”

Operating hours for the couple’s other two restaurants are 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays — although hours for The Commons will depend on market demands, the couple said.

On Monday, they planned to take pictures of the interior of the restaurant to work with a designer on the new look. They are also beginning their liquor license application, which could take about 12 weeks.

Where to learn more

For a preview of Luciana’s Mexican Restaurant and Cantina, visit:

lucianasmexicanrestaurant.com

Author photo
Julie McClure is assistant managing editor of The Republic. She can be reached at jmcclure@therepublic.com or (812) 379-5631.