Molino’s Cuisine, the popular contemporary Mexican restaurant at 1064 N. Waco that has been packing in big lunch crowds since it opened in May of last year, is adding an east-side location.
Owner Mario Quiroz confirmed on Thursday that he will open a second Molino’s in the building at 7817 E. 37th St. North that was first built in 2010 to house hot dog restaurant Linkhaus. The space also briefly was home to U Grill, which opened in September 2011 and closed a few months later. Quiroz is leasing-to-own the space, which sits just across the street from Siena Plaza at 37th and Rock.
The second Molino’s should be ready in mid-November, Quiroz said.
The new restaurant will have the same menu as the original and will include the popular piratas, street tacos, cochinita pibil meat and a variety of salsas.
Quiroz owned La Mesa when it operated at 6960 W. 21st St. in the mid 2000s. He later opened Frida’s at 1580 W. 21st St. and earned a loyal following for his unique, contemporary Mexican food. But he closed Frida’s in 2010 after nearby street construction affected access to the building and hurt business.
He worked for a few years as sales representative for US Foods before stumbling across the space next to Juarez Bakery, where he opened Molino’s in May of last year.
These days, Molino’s is so popular, it’s hard to get a seat, especially at lunch. Quiroz said his customers have been asking him for a restaurant with more space, and over the past year, several real estate agents have approached him with building suggestions, he said.
But he loved the building at 37th and Rock, which features modern architecture and a dramatic front that’s all windows.
“I had a good feeling about that place,” he said. “I feel like the place was designed for us.”
Quiroz is now working on some minor remodeling in the building, which he said still smells “like a new car.” The space has room for a full bar, and he plans to keep the furnishings contemporary, in the same style as the original Molino’s. The second restaurant will serve lunch and dinner.
He and his wife, Mara Garza, will likely divide duties between the two restaurants once the second Molino’s is open, he said.
Is this the beginning of a Molino’s takeover?
“I think we need to go step by step,” Quiroz said. “I don’t want to think of more places now, but my mind is open. We need to keep doing the same thing, and if we can control No. 2 well enough, maybe we can do a third one. Why not?”