“We’re not doing tacos,” says Gabriel Zeller, who along with partner and spouse Julie Mesenburg will be opening Avo Modern Mexican (2058 W. 25th St.) in Ohio City. “There are a lot of taco places around. My taco places out in Sandusky and Amherst do well, but I’ve been working on this menu for quite a while, so I went with this concept instead.”
Zeller and Mesenburg recently took possession of the Bakersfield Tacos space in Ohio City, which closed in March and never reopened. The owner-operators also run Char in Rocky River, Barra Tacos in Sandusky and Amherst, and Lago, a seasonal eatery in Marblehead.
When it opens before the end of the year, Avo will offer a finer-dining approach to modern-Mexican foods, says Zeller.
“Mexican food is something I’ve always enjoyed cooking since I was a kid; it was something me and my mom would do,” he explains.
Those formative experiences were further shaped by recent trips to Dallas, where contemporary Mexican, Tex-Mex and Latin-fusion foods abound.
Avo will be lunch and dinner to begin, with weekend brunch being added a month or so down the road. Diners can expect appetizers like guacamole, charcuterie and ceviche platters, soups such as sopa de lima, and main courses like carne con papas and espresso and chile-rubbed filet.
Eight draft beers will be joined by eight signature cocktails.
The space currently is undergoing an extensive cosmetic renovation, says Zeller.
“We’re redoing the floors, repainting the interior and exterior, new tables and chairs, and refinishing the bartop," he reports. "I don’t like going into a space that already existed and have people walk in and feel like it’s the same thing all over.”
As far as opening a finer-dining eatery during Covid, Zeller says that his other businesses have been doing quite well despite the challenges.
“We’ve done well at our other locations through Covid,” he says. “The quality of our food and service brings people back.”
For those who prefer to dine at home, there are great take-out options with contactless curbside pickup, he adds.