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Taco Tonto’s Getting Ready to Open in Lakewood

John and Jill Crino are opening the popular, Kent-based eatery on Madison Avenue in the space of the former Bela Dubby coffee shop.

It’s been a few months since the Bela Dubby coffee shop closed on Madison Avenue, but rest assured, the Taco Tonto’s is almost ready to open its doors to the public.

Taco Tonto’s, one of the most popular restaurants in Kent — just steps away from the Kent State University campus — is set to open a second location in Lakewood on Oct. 8.

The new sign hangs above the door at 13321 Madison Avenue. 

The newspapers covering the windows add to the anticipation of the grand opening. 

For good reason.

The space seems as if it's been completely transformed, and it's full of color.

A new wall divides the dining area from the new kitchen. In a nod to Bela Dubby’s art culture, that wall is covered by a large, hand-painted mural. 

Most of the furniture in the space is reused and repurposed. For example, parts of the bar were reclaimed from Cleveland bars that closed years ago.

The menu, just to the right of the bar, boasts well-known Taco Tonto's favorites including tacos, tostadas and taco salads.

The Crinos partnered earlier this year with Taco Tonto’s owners, Kevin and Emily Yohn. 

“We always wanted to have more to offer at Bela Dubby,” said John Crino, who ran the coffee shop with his wife for the past nine years. “We always talked about having a kitchen here.”

“Bela Dubby had certainly run its course.”

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 the popular hangout Bela Dubby.

“We decided to do this because the opportunity presented itself,” Jill Crino said. “To us, opening Taco Tonto’s is like winning the lottery. It’s something we love — it’s a dream come true.”

Alexandra September 19, 2012 at 12:05 PM
Yeah! Finally!
Barry Wemyss September 19, 2012 at 12:15 PM
Boy, Taco Tontos takes me farther back into my murky past at KSU than I would care to admit. Looking forward to the grand opening.
Judith Szentkiralyi September 19, 2012 at 01:02 PM
That's Jill and John Crino (in then first line after the headline)
Colin McEwen September 19, 2012 at 08:44 PM
Thanks Judith! I got it. On another note: Yay! Taco Tonto's coming to Lakewood! I grew up five minutes away from the Taco Tonto's in Kent, so I am looking forward to having a little piece of my former home just five minutes away from my new home.

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