One of the most popular restaurants in Kent is expanding to Lakewood.
, a staple in downtown Kent — just steps away from the Kent State University campus — is set to open in the space currently occupied by on Madison Avenue this summer.
The coffee shop/hipster hangout, owned by John and Jill Crino, is expected to close during renovations, but will reopen as the neighborhood’s newest restaurant.
The Crinos partnered with Taco Tonto’s owner, Kevin and Emily Yohn.
John Crino said he first became interested in opening a Taco Tonto’s in 1990, after he graduated from Kent State University. Then, he and his wife moved to New York City, where they continued to dream about opening a Taco Tonto’s.
When they moved to Lakewood a few years back, they opened Bela Dubby.
“We always looked for something to have more to offer at Bela Dubby and we didn’t have a kitchen,” John Crino said. “We talked to Kevin about franchising, and we ended up being partners.”
He said, with the addition of a kitchen, the space will be smaller, but will include a full bar — and a liquor license is on the way.
“I am not sure how the music will work out,” he said. “We’ve talked about how to have music on a smaller scale.
Bela Dubby’s last day is April 1, and renovations to the space at 13321 Madison Avenue are expected to begin the next day. However, the partners said that jobs would be offered to current Bela Dubby employees.
“I put a teaser on Facebook and it’s taken off,” he said.
“There are a lot of people who go to Kent State, and the next natural move is Lakewood,” he added. “Over the years, people always said they wished there was a Taco Tonto’s in Lakewood. We decided it would be a good fit.”
“John and Jill have run that place for a while,” Kevin Yohn said. “They have a good name up there."