The team behind a popular Scottsdale Mexican restaurant will bring 4 new concepts to Mesa – AZCentral

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After a few weeks of dine-in service, the dining rooms at both locations of Los Sombreros are closed once again. The closures are temporary, due to a positive case of COVID-19 found at the Scottsdale restaurant.

But once the Scottsdale and uptown Phoenix locations reopen for dine-in, they will soon be joined by a third location of the popular Mexican restaurant. Later this year Los Sombreros will take over the space that previously housed La Casa De Juana in Mesa. 

Los Sombreros specializes in central Mexican cuisine and first opened in Scottsdale more than 20 years ago, although new ownership took over the restaurant in 2017.

The new ownership, which includes Kurt Riske and Geoff Schuman, opened a second location inside SunUp Brewing in uptown Phoenix in December. The company’s plan was to open one new location of the restaurant each year. But the global pandemic has changed those plans.

Still by mid-July, they hope to bring Mesa four new restaurant concepts in one. As they wait for the construction to be completed on Los Sombreros, the owners hope to have the kitchen fired up and offering a range of options from hearty burritos to health-focused food via takeout and delivery.

Eventually, this space will evolve into the third location of Los Sombreros and the other concepts will be moved out, if all goes well, by the end of the year.

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How Los Sombreros has evolved through coronavirus

Throughout the coronavirus pandemic, Los Sombreros has continued to evolve to meet the demands of the community, keeping customers safe and keeping the lights on.

The owners transformed the Scottsdale location’s parking lot and a window in the restaurant into a makeshift drive-thru while the dining room was closed. Customers can pull up curbside and their food is handed out to the car on a large wooden pizza peel. 

The restaurant also offers takeout margaritas at the drive-thru, served in recycled Patron tequila bottles. The drive-thru also serves beer and ice cream.

But the innovation necessary to continue doing business didn’t stop there. The team expanded the curbside takeout options to uptown Phoenix as well and created grocery boxes filled with lettuce, tomatoes, eggs, rice, cheese and other products that would rotate each week.

“I have had so many family and friends who know we own restaurants reach out to us and ask if they can purchase products,” co-owner Colleen Riske told The Arizona Republic in March. 

Customers could order ahead and pick up provisions at either location of the restaurant. 

What to expect at the new location in Mesa

Alongside planning and producing the new drive-thru options and grocery boxes, the Los Sombreros team has also been cooking up plans for their newest location. 

The new four-restaurant combo will be located on the northeast corner of Dobson Road and Southern Avenue, in the shopping center that houses Asiana Market.

The location was formerly home to La Casa De Juana, another Mexican restaurant chain that continues to operate locations in Tempe and Chandler. 

But the restaurant will not be a straight-forward third location of Los Sombreros, at least in the beginning.

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“We are excited to be getting this one open in some capacity,” says co-owner Kurt Riske. “Even if it is not what we intended.”

The space, which Riske hopes to open on July 14, will be home to Los Sombreros and up to three other restaurants. Riske also owns Jerry’s Restaurant in Safford and hopes offer a shortened version of the diner’s menu from inside the Mesa space.

The space will also launch a new concept called Carnitas Way, which Riske describes as a “little sister” of Los Sombreros. The menu will include burritos, burrito bowls and tacos, all menu items not available at Los Sombreros. 

Riske hopes some day to expand this concept into drive-thru restaurant similar to Filibertos or Riliberto’s. 

Finally, the space will eventually also hold Rooted, a health food concept focused on yoga, meditation and healthy lifestyles. 

‘COVID pushed us to move forward all the ideas we had’

“It’s not exactly a super easy task,” Riske says of fitting all four into the one space. “We have to keep all these concepts in mind as we design the layout.”

But the construction will mainly be focused on the plan to ultimately simplify the space into the third location of Los Sombreros.

“Once we open Los Sombreros, hopefully we can move the concept of multiple kitchens into another space,” Riske says.

The company had always planned to expand; But the global pandemic put a strain on income and bumped forward some of his other ideas.

“COVID pushed us to move forward all the ideas we had just on paper,” Riske says.

The new location is set to launch takeout and delivery service on July 14, Riske says, confident that menus for Los Sombreros, Jerry’s and Carnitas Way will be ready. Rooted may join shortly after.

He then hopes to transform the space into a third location of Los Sombreros by the end of the year.

Details: 1976 W. Southern Avenue, Mesa. 

Reach the reporter at tirion.morris@arizonarepublic.com. Follow her on Twitter at @tirionmorris, on Facebook at Tirion Rose and on Instagram at tirionrose

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