Talented restaurateur Johnny Ornelas is opening a new restaurant on West Main Street in the space formerly home to World Of Beer.
Mejicali Restaurant will open later this year in the Flats at West Village next to the bridge on West Main Street. Ornelas is also the manager and co-owner of Guadalajara on Jefferson Park Avenue and the co-owner of El Mariachi in Zions Crossroads.
“Guadaljara has been my life in Charlottesville through my parents and family members. El Mariachi was the next step in the next part of our lives as family, as parents and as brothers,” Ornelas said. “[Mejicali Restaurant] is going to be more me. I am going to touch on who I am, what I like and what Charlottesville has turned me into.”
Mejicali will be a California and international style restaurant with traditional tacos, fresh tortillas, a full bar and a menu that showcases cuisine from other Charlottesville-area eateries, including Arepas On Wheels, Dino’s Wood-Fired Pizza and Inka Grill.
“Mejicali will be a community-based restaurant,” Ornelas explained. “I have pulled different contacts for Mejicali. I want to bring those businesses and incorporate them into my business. I want to showcase them and not just take the credit for it. That way we can draw our community together and have a successful restaurant. That way the community can have a taste of everything.”
Ornelas has partnered with River Hawkins, the co-owner and face of The Bebedero on The Downtown Mall. Hawkins is one of the best mixologists in the Charlottesville area and helped launch The Milkman’s Bar inside Dairy Market. Hawkins will have a minority stake in Mejicali and will create the bar menu while shaping the aesthetic of the restaurant.
“River will be let loose,” Ornelas said. “He is going to help us with the bar and the decor.”
Ornelas recently purchased a $10,000 tortilla maker. His team will make fresh tortillas daily for Mejicali, for other restaurants and for off-site customer consumption.
Ornelas and his team are currently remodeling the World Of Beer space. He said they will keep roughly one third of the beer taps in play at Mejicali. They hope to open in December.
Watch the sizzle reel below to learn more about Mejicali Restaurant:
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