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One door closes, another opens

The shuttered Cantina Laredo and Parlor 88 are being replaced by new offerings this summer

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Changes are brewing in Springfield’s retail food and beverage industry.

In late May and early June, two established businesses ceased operations, with new replacements quickly taking over the existing buildings.

Cantina Laredo out, Los Cabos in
One Mexican restaurant will be swapped for another this summer, after the Cantina Laredo franchisee closed the doors of its lone Springfield location.

Signage on the front door of the 4109 S. National Ave. building announced the permanent closure of Cantina Laredo, which opened in September 2013.

Texas-based Cantina Laredo, which also has corporate-owned Missouri locations in Branson and Clayton, is one of several restaurant food chains held by Consolidated Restaurant Operations Inc.

“The franchisee made the decision to close the restaurant,” said Bill Watson, vice president of marketing with Dallas-based CRO. “We were aware they were thinking in those terms.”

Dr. Harcharan Bains was franchisee, taking over in 2016 from the opening proprietor, Steve Heil, according to Missouri secretary of state records. A psychiatrist who has practiced at Citizens Memorial Healthcare, Bains confirmed via email he closed the restaurant but declined to respond to additional requests for comment by press time. He thanked the community for its support over the past few years.

Watson said there are no plans to open another location in Springfield, but it’s not out of the question.

“I frankly hope we do return to Springfield sooner than not with another Cantina Laredo,” he said.

At the South National Avenue building, crew members with Springfield’s Nesbitt Construction Inc. were working June 4, as a banner near the top of the structure showed Los Cabos Mexican Grill & Cantina as coming soon.

Michael Nesbitt, president of Nesbitt Construction, said his company started the project May 31, after being notified about it two months earlier.

“It’s essentially a cosmetic remodel,” he said, adding the project should be complete by late July.

Nesbitt said 6 B’s Restaurant Management Group, based in Oklahoma, will lease the space.

Jim Blacketer, founder of Oklahoma-based 6 B’s Restaurant Management Group, said the restaurant is on a 10-year term with two five-year options with Bains for Los Cabos. Financial terms were not disclosed.

“We thought it was a fantastic site,” Blacketer said of the building with James River Freeway frontage.

The management group had been looking at the Springfield market for a couple of years, he said, having scouted the area around the time of the 2016 opening of its Independence location – which has a Bass Pro Shops as a neighbor.

Brad Sellers, project superintendent with Nesbitt Construction, said the 8,000-square-foot building is undergoing light remodeling in advance of a planned Aug. 1 opening. Sellers described the new restaurant’s look as South Beach cantina-style, noting booths are being reupholstered along with new paint and fixtures. Andrea Deckard of A. Deckard Interiors is handling the building’s interior design.

“You’re going to see pinks and turquoise,” Sellers said. “We don’t have too many pink and turquoise buildings in Springfield.”

The first Los Cabos opened in the Tulsa, Oklahoma, area in 2005, Blacketer said, and there are two other locations in Oklahoma and one in Independence.

“We think Springfield is a great food market,” he said. “We’ve spent a lot of time there and we thought we’d fit right in.”

Los Cabos Mexican Grill & Cantina is billed as a casual, upscale Mexican restaurant, with the intent of bringing a Los Cabos, Mexico, resort feel to its establishments. Among its menu offerings are carnitas, blackened tilapia, fajitas, burritos and enchiladas. Blacketer said mariachi bands play on the weekends.

“When you go to Los Cabos, it’s like going on vacation,” he said. “We try to make it an entertaining experience every single night.”

Between 70 and 80 people will be employed for the Springfield restaurant, and Blacketer said hiring should begin around the start of July, followed by training in mid-July.

Parlor 88 out, Whiskey Tango in
It’s the end of an era for Parlor 88.

The original location of Parlor 88 lounge on Republic Road closed May 30. It was the last of three operating at one time in Springfield.

But the space at 1111 E. Republic Road won’t stay empty for long.

Whiskey Tango, owned by Stephen and Karen Williamson, currently has crews inside the building, with a planned opening of Aug. 1.

Williamson said he and his wife purchased the assets of the lounge, including tables, chairs and booths, for an undisclosed amount. They plan to repurpose what they can, but said the renovation project, including the removal of the giant fireplace that served as the centerpiece of Parlor 88, will be ongoing for weeks.

“We have gutted it. Everything from the bar forward is out,” he said. “It will be unrecognizable as Parlor 88.”

The south-side Parlor 88 had been in operation since 2007 in the Gallery Eleven shopping center, owned by Gallery Eleven LLC via John Haik.

Two other Parlor 88 locations, one on East Sunshine and another just off the downtown square, closed in early 2014. Originally started by Paul Sundy and Jay Hickman, the business boasted an expansive drink menu and promoted happy hours.

Father and son Kris and Ben Clements bought the Republic Road location for undisclosed terms in October 2016, according to past Springfield Business Journal reporting.
 
Haik, who also owns Ozark Adventures in Gallery Eleven, said Kris Clements sold the business assets May 31 to the Williamsons. Clements could not be reached for comment by press time.

Haik said Parlor 88 was one of the shopping center’s first tenants, and he was a bit sad to see it go.

“They really had a huge business when they started,” he said.

Stephen Williamson said he signed a new multiyear lease with Gallery Eleven LLC, with options extending up to 12 years. He declined to disclose lease rates and startup costs, but estimated they will be “in excess of several hundred thousand dollars.” Costs were partially self-financed, he said, and through a loan with Legacy Bank & Trust.

Williamson said he will serve as owner/operator of Whiskey Tango, with his wife as co-owner and manager of finances.

“She’s the brains behind the operation. And she’ll be keeping me in line, which in itself is a full-time job,” he said with a laugh.

Referring to the concept as a “speakeasy meets Miami South Beach,” Williamson said Whiskey Tango will feature a menu heavy on appetizers and cocktails.

Williamson said Whiskey Tango marks he and his wife’s first venture in the food and beverage industry. However, he said they’ve spent time educating themselves on the industry over the past several months, including attending the Nightclub & Bar Show, a multiday convention in Las Vegas. There, they made connections with Invictus Hospitality, out of Los Angeles, he said, noting representatives of the hospitality consultancy would be working with them through the renovations, hiring and training.

The establishment’s name was inspired by Williamson’s military background, he said, as an Army pilot in the late 1980s.

Eric Olson contributed.

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