After unexpected delays, work has finally begun at 101 W. Main Street in the building that is expected to become Rio Plano Taqueria.
“The delays with the project didn’t have anything to do with COVID on our end,” explains owner Brent Slagell. Instead, it was as lengthy backlog in paperwork at the state level that pushed back to the opening of the restaurant, which was originally expected to open its doors by early 2021.
To make the restaurant feasible, Slagell needed approval from the state to add a balcony to the building. That will add seating overlooking the Flat River. What’s more, he applied for grant funds from the state and the Lowell Historic District to rehabilitate the property which dates back to the 19th Century and housed the city’s post office at one time. It most recently was used by the Lowell Serenity Club.
Now that the balcony and grant approvals have come through, renovations on the building have begun. When it’s all said and done, the property will be home to a 60-seat Mexican restaurant on the first floor and two 1-bedroom apartments on the second floor.
Rio Plano Taqueria shouldn’t be confused with Ripple, another Mexican restaurant that is scheduled to open in Lowell. That restaurant has a different owner and may have some non-Mexican dishes on its menu.
Meanwhile, down the street, there will be a limited menu at Rio Plano Taqueria. “The goal of our space is to be very niche,” according to Slagell. The restaurant might offer some dry burrito wraps and bowls, but it’s main attraction will be a variety of authentic street tacos that can be paired with margaritas from the bar, which is expected to stock 20 different kinds of tequila.
Once the restaurant opens, Slagell says customers can expect high-quality food in a unique setting on the river. He says, “My goal is to have it done in the first two months of 2022.”