By Jennifer Adkins, Staff Writer
Chattanooga restaurateurs and partners Vinit Barot and Harry Patel are renovating the former Chattanooga Burger Bar at 203 W. Second St. into a Mexican restaurant to be known as Rio Picante.
Mr. Barot, the manager, said the new eatery, also once the site of the Tortilla Factory restaurant, will consist of two levels. The downstairs will be aimed at family dining and tourists, and the rooftop bar will target the university crowd, he said.
Gerald Combe, general manager for FoxStone contracting and construction group, said the project will cost close to $1 million and is due to be finished by mid-September. Mr. Combe will be a part of the management team at Rio Picante.
“There is a lot of excitement,” Mr. Combe said. “We have a minimum of 15 people a day asking when we will be open.”
Staff Photo by John Rawlston
Gerald Combe, left, contractor, and Vinit Barot, owner, are pictured at Rio Picante, a restaurant that will open around Labor Day in the former location of the Tortilla Factory in the downtown Chattanooga riverfront area.
The project started two weeks ago, according to Mr. Barot. This week the group will start extending the store front into a patio, he said.
Mr. Barot also said the entrance will have a tiled arch and a courtyard style archway created in the patio area, which will be adorned by a water fountain. Upon entering the main dining area, customers will see an entirely renovated bar with a variety of specialty, frozen margaritas, he said.
There will be a mixed menu, primarily Mexican, with lunches and dinners at very competitive prices, Mr. Combe said. “The atmosphere will be so appealing with the young adults, the great location and, hands down, the food is going to be very very good,” he said.
Mr. Barot said patrons will be able to enjoy signature flour, corn and wheat tortillas prepared in front of them at the Live Tortilla Station. Additionally, new booths and table setting will be available to accommodate a group of up to 30 people.
The bar area will also have seating for 28 people, bringing the total seating capacity of the dining area, including the patio, to 220, he said.
The rooftop bar will seat 118 and include at least 10 flat-screen TVs to serve as a football headquarters for the upcoming season, Mr. Barot said.
According to Mr. Combe, the restaurant will probably employ more than 25 servers.
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