Bakersfield Tacos, Tequila, Whiskey, a small restaurant group launched by Cincinnati natives John and Joe Lanni, is on track to open in Ohio City in the first quarter of 2015. The brothers, along with co-founder Alex Blust, have signed a lease to take over the old Grind spot at the corner of W. 25th Street and Keene Court, just a block south of Lorain.
The Bakersfield concept launched in Cincinnati’s Over-the-Rhine neighborhood in 2012. Locations soon followed in Indianapolis, Columbus, Charlotte and, soon, Nashville. Ohio City will make number six. The ownership group also founded and operates a chain of 19 Currito fast-casual burrito shops, including one in Cleveland Hopkins International Airport.
“Ohio City just has a great feel,” Joe Lanni explains. “It's similar to other neighborhoods where we have gone. I just read a newspaper article that ranked it as one of the most up-and-coming neighborhoods. It's that kind of energy that we look for in sites, and we think it's a great fit for us.”
The name is a tribute to the Bakersfield Sound, a country music genre that originated in Bakersfield, California in the ‘50s and ‘60s. That music — as well as rock ‘n’ roll — is served up alongside Mexican street foods like tacos, tortas and tostadas. The menu is intentionally concise, says Lanni, because of the company’s dedication to quality.
“It’s not a big menu so we can really focus on doing things the right way,” Lanni says. That includes hand-pressing limes and lemons for margaritas, and even crafting the corn tortillas at each location. “It's a little unusual and it's definitely an extra step that a lot of places don't take because tortillas are so widely available. But when you taste our product, you see why we take the extra time.”
Of course, that food will be washed down by plenty of cold beer, tangy margaritas and craft cocktails built from barrel-aged spirits, including whiskey and tequila. The atmosphere at all Bakersfield restaurants is lively, casual and high-spirited, Lanni reports.
“It’s just a fun, rowdy atmosphere,” he says. “But we're good neighbors and become part of the neighborhood in every community.”
Lanni says that they will expand the footprint of the brick building by adding a kitchen to the rear of the building. Plans also call for reclaiming a portion of the alleyway for use as an outdoor bar and patio.
The development of this property signals a continued push south of Lorain Avenue.