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LOOK: Taco Tonto's Opens on Madison Avenue

Kent-based eatery opens its doors in Lakewood in the former space of Bela Dubby coffee shop.

It’s been a few months since the Bela Dubby coffee shop closed, and on Monday, the highly anticipated Taco Tonto’s opened in its place on Madison Avenue.

Taco Tonto’s, one of the most popular restaurants in Kent — just steps away from the Kent State University campus — opened its second location with huge crowds of patrons stopping by into the evening.

The grand opening was so busy, that the restaurant sold out of food.

The space seems as if it has been completely transformed from the former coffee shop.

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 boasts well-known Taco Tonto's favorites including tacos, tostadas and taco salads.

John and Jill Crino partnered earlier this year with Taco Tonto’s owners, Kevin and Emily Yohn. 

“We always wanted to have more to offer at Bela Dubby,” John Crino, who ran the coffee shop with his wife for the past nine years, said last month. “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 added. “To us, opening Taco Tonto’s is like winning the lottery. It’s something we love — it’s a dream come true.”

Alexandra October 09, 2012 at 12:18 PM
Yeah! Another new eatery, the east side is beginning it's Renaissance. Cannot wait to try it!
Alex Vandehoff October 09, 2012 at 12:21 PM
Nice! Really looking forward to trying them out.
Michael Fleenor October 09, 2012 at 08:40 PM
Ate there last night. The decor is very well done--a very colorful mid-century style, and the food is awesome! Taco Tonto is going to be extremely successful and yes, Lakewood's East End is hot!
Silvia Weber October 09, 2012 at 11:46 PM
Thank you for staying with Madison Avenue. Your "new" place, with it's ART, eclectic charm and good food is exactly what Madison is all about. Trend is towards the Short North atmosphere in Columbus , OH that is so appealing. And thank you Mayor Summers for fighting to get our much needed street improvements on the schedule, sooner than later !
Christina Cocchiarale Ward October 10, 2012 at 01:54 PM
Ok. I am not a big Mexican fan. In fact the only "Mexican" or Spanish food I like is Taco Bell. lol I kid you not. But this looks like a fun place. I ate at Luchita's once and did NOT like it one bit. Is it comparable to them? I'm willing to try it sometime. I assume they have typical nachos?

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