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Condado Tacos giving Columbus a test

If one wants to determine if a restaurant can thrive in cities across the country, Condado Tacos owner Joe Kahn thinks establishing it in Columbus will give the answer.

His build-your-own taco restaurant is opening this month in the Short North at 1227 N. High St.

Although this is the first Condado Tacos, the restaurant’s concept isn’t brand new, Kahn said.

In Cleveland, Kahn was co-creator of Barrio, a taco restaurant he described as nearly identical to what he has in store for Condado. Kahn ended up selling his portion of the business and ventured to Columbus to begin his own project.

“Same concept, different name,” he said. “In Spanish, condado means town.”

Kahn said the move to Columbus was a strategic one.

“Columbus is known as a national testing ground,” he said. “If it does well here, it’s a good indicator you can take your restaurant elsewhere, such as Chicago or Indianapolis. We’re trying to take this national.”

Once the Short North location has been operating for about six months, Kahn said he will begin searching for an additional space to house his second Condado Tacos in Columbus.

Two soft openings are scheduled for Thursday and Friday, with a grand opening planned for Nov. 25, he said.

Condado Tacos will be a sit-down restaurant with sushi-style menu where customers can check off what they want in their taco  their tables, Kahn said.

The menu will be vegan and vegetarian friendly, with Thai tofu chili and portobello mushrooms available as protein alternatives, Kahn said.

“Everything is from scratch,” he said. “It’s all very fresh.”

Tacos will be priced between $3 and $4.

Additionally, the restaurant will have a build-your-own margarita menu with 15 different flavors and fresh fruit to choose from, Kahn said.

Rachel Hughes, a fourth-year in psychology, said she’s eager to try out Condado Tacos.

“I’m always up for trying new things,” she said. “I haven’t heard of anything like this, so I’m excited to see if it meets my expectations.”

Andrew Rickly, a second-year in exercise science, agreed with Hughes.

“Condado Tacos sounds like a cool idea that combines the customization and variety of Chipotle, but with a more sit-down restaurant feel,” he said.

The restaurant seats 125 inside and an outdoor patio located behind the building will accommodate an additional 80 people when the weather warms up, Kahn said.

Murals based on the Mexican holiday Day of the Dead will cover all four walls of the restaurant, Kahn said.

Condado Tacos will be open until 2 a.m. every day.

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