VIENNA -South of the border cuisine is coming to Vienna.
El Mariachi is opening a restaurant in the former Paolo's just off Grand Central Avenue behind Holl's Chocolate. Mia Smith, primary owner and operator of the El Mariachi chain, said they are expanding to the north end.
Smith and her husband, Julio Lemus, opened a store in south Parkersburg at the Southgate Shopping Center seven years ago. They have no plans to close that store, only to expand their operation to the north end of the county.
Photo by Jody Murphy
The former Paolo’s Restaurant site soon will open as a second El Mariachi Mexican restaurant in the area. Mia Smith, primary owner/operator, said the new store could open as early as Nov. 1. The south Parkersburg restaurant, which has been open for seven years at the Southgate Shopping Center, will remain open.
She is hoping they can tap into the Vienna market.
"Many people don't want to travel to south side," she said.
They were also empowered by the positive reception the food received at the Taste of Parkersburg, she said.
Smith said they were looking at another expansion, including Wyoming County, but opted to stay in the Mid-Ohio Valley.
"We found a good location in an area with a good population," she said.
Smith, who attended Warren High School, played tennis at Greenmont Racquet and Swim Club in Vienna and attended college at the University of Charleston. She headed south after college, to Florida, before returning to he area and getting into the restaurant business.
Smith said they reviewed locations throughout the area before settling on the former Paolo's.
"We looked at several location in the area, but one didn't have the kitchen, another didn't have the space," she said.
The kitchen is ready, but the dining room was being remodeled. The carpet has been removed and the walls are being redecorated.
Smith said they are hoping to have the new store open by mid-November, possibly as early as Nov. 1.
The Vienna store will be the seventh in the chain. In addition to the southside store, there are locations in Beckley, Crab Orchard, Hinton, Tazewell, Va., and Richlands, Va.
"We are always keeping our eyes open for another location," she said.
Smith and her husband aren't worried about the competition from other Mexican restaurants in the area.
She said the former Paolo's is "far enough away from the other restaurants near the traffic circle.
"There is competition and there is good competition," she said. "We don't want to step on anyone's toes."