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.”