FAIRVIEW PARK - Nuevo Acapulco Mexican Restaurant co-owner Charlie Rico has met his goal of reopening before Cinco de Mayo.
The May 5 celebration of Mexican-American culture has always been a big day at the popular restaurant, which Rico owns with his brother-in-law, Vincente Ramirez.
The establishment, with seating for 150, began serving food again April 18.
Previously located 2 miles west on Lorain Road, the restaurant was forced to close in late July when North Olmsted Fire Department inspectors discovered extensive problems with its ventilation system. The inspectors had been conducting an inspection at the adjacent Economy Inn when they noticed the problem, fire inspector Mark Weston said. Restaurants typically hire outside contractors to clean their hood systems, which vent cooking vapors and smoke from the kitchen. The motel and building Rico rented for the restaurant were both owned by Champakbhai and Jashvantiben Patel.
"The other building was really old," said Rico, who used the fire department's order as an occasion to relocate. He announced Nuevo's move to the old Stamper's three weeks later.
"This was a better location," Rico said of the spot across from the Fairview Centre shopping plaza. "We always wanted a patio, and it wasn't going to happen there."
Rico, who is renting the building at 21750 Lorain Road, declined to say how much he's invested in the restaurant's makeover. Those who frequented Stamper's, which closed nearly four years ago, will notice that the main bar has been removed so the kitchen could be expanded.
Walls have been painted in bold vibrant colors and feature statues of parrots and decorations with a Mexican theme.
Rico nearly doubled the size of the outdoor patio area, which includes a bar specializing in margaritas. The bar has three flat-screen TVs that will be tuned to sports.
Many of the restaurant's current two dozen employees worked at the North Olmsted location, Rico said.
As for the food, the menu is the same, Rico said. Popular dishes include arroz con pollo (chicken breast sauteed in special sauce and mushrooms with rice) and tacos al carbon (three flour tortillas dipped in salsa and stuffed with your choice of meat.
The restaurant plans a formal grand reopening celebration, Rico said, at a date to be announced on the business's Facebook page. Cinco de Mayo celebrations will begin Saturday night with a performance by "Kelvis," an Elvis Presley impersonator. The connection between Elvis and Mexican cuisine is unclear, but Rico said the appearances by Kelvis have become a Nuevo Acapulco tradition.