This summer Taita Peruvian Restaurant quietly closed up in the spot next to Tooey's at Colfax and Marion, but the location didn't stay vacant for long. Zach Parker, co-owner of the new Las Margs, says he was ready to move on the place just eighteen days later. He owes the quick turnaround to his industry experience -- twenty years at the nearby Las Margaritas (now Argyll Whiskey Beer) -- as well as to help from his father-in-law and co-owner, Octavio Granados.
During Parker's twenty years at Las Margaritas, he waited tables and bartended -- but he'd been managing the place for years by the time Granados sold it to Robert Thompson of Argyll in late 2013. Running a restaurant is second nature to him at this point, he says, but he wanted help with behind-the-scenes intricacies like lease negotiations and liquor licenses. And so Las Margs became a family affair once again, although this time in a smaller, more modern space with a tighter menu that includes Mexican street food like tortas and a short list of simple tacos.
The new digs are just four blocks from the old Las Margaritas, but Parker is very enthusiastic about his new neighbors. "It's amazing how many new regulars we already have from the new block," he says. He also points out that Tooey's does not serve food, so customers from the next-door bar have been getting take-out orders from his kitchen.
And the neighborhood was definitely in need of a Mexican restaurant, he adds, especially one with a bar. "It's eight blocks in either direction (on Colfax) to another Mexican place."
The menu is "about 90 percent new," according to Parker, and he's particularly proud of the rellenos and green and red chiles that the kitchen makes with chiles brought from Las Cruces, New Mexico, just as Las Margaritas did.
Several former employees from Las Margaritas have joined the new staff, including the kitchen manager and former servers who are taking shifts to help out during the opening months. "It's flattering to have people drop what they're doing to help out," says Parker of the friends, family and former co-workers who have pitched in the new eatery.
Operating hours haven't been firmly established, but Parker says you can expect the place to be open at least from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily, and possibly later on weekends once the restaurant is fully staffed. He's also planning a weekend brunch from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. with $1 mimosas, $2 Bloody Marys and $3 draft beers.
As for the previous tenants, they were out so quickly that many of their vendors were still coming by looking for them as Las Margs was getting ready to open, Parker says. "I was cordial to all of them," he adds.
That's just his style -- always on the lookout for new connections and new customers.
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Keep reading for more photos of Las Margs.