El Toro Mexican Grill plans to open a fourth location in the old Garfield's restaurant this summer, Chad Turner, with Oliver Smith Realty of Knoxville, confirmed to Times-News on Thursday.
“You'll probably start seeing work begin before the end of the month and we've got an opening date of early summer,” Turner said. “About 120 days from the first of March, so we're looking at a late June/early July opening.”
El Toro is owned by Jose Bravo, who has been in the restaurant business for more than 15 years. Bravo has three El Toro locations in Morristown, White Pines and Dandridge and the Kingsport location will be his first expansion into the Tri-Cities region.
Bravo plans to use the entire Garfield's space with outdoor patio seating and a bar area. Turner said the food would be of the traditional Tex-Mex variety, though a fresh take on the style of offerings.
“The strength of a restaurant is really all about the food, that's what it comes down to,” Turner said. “We really believe in Jose's talent as restauranteur and operator and really believe in his product. His strength is with his recipes, which are family recipes, tried and true. He puts a lot of soul into his cooking and really cares about the quality of his food.”
Garfield's closed its Kingsport location in July 2012 and since then the 5,000-square-foot space has remained empty.
“Of course, on our end, this has been a long time coming, but we feel very good about our new operator and we anticipate more signings in 2016,” said Kevin Harmon, general manager of the Kingsport Town Center.
Oliver Smith Realty represents dozens of restaurant groups and is becoming more and more interested in the Kingsport and Tri-Cities area every day, Turner said. As for Bravo, he's thrilled to death to be able to get into the mall, Turner added.
“He's got some ambitious plans and wants to make a splash,” Turner said. “He's had a lot of success in the mall location in Morristown, he loves to be in a mall and he's going to really overhaul the restaurant and make it his as opposed to what it's been before.”