Mexico Lindo to open in former Baja Billy's spaceCo-owner Felipe Mata is in Mexico researching new recipes and lining up custom furniture that will decorate the renovated 8,600 square feet on the top floor of the Fitger’s Brewery Complex.
By: Andy Greder, Duluth News Tribune
Mexico Lindo will open a second restaurant in March in the former Baja Billy’s location in the Fitger’s Brewery Complex.
Owner Felipe Mata and manager Pedro Aranda emigrated from Mexico and opened a restaurant with the same name in Cloquet about five years ago. The warm welcome and success of the Cloquet restaurant prompted the expansion to downtown Duluth, Aranda said.
“People are really nice here in the north,” Aranda said. “They like our food and we were like, ‘Let’s try it out in Fitger’s.’ ”
Mata is currently in Mexico researching new recipes to add to the menu and lining up the delivery of the custom furniture that will decorate the renovated 8,600 square feet on the top floor of Fitger’s.
Scott Vesterstein, whose family is the majority owner of Fitger’s, said Mexico Lindo will be successful based on his personal experience.
“The food is spectacular and the service is even better,” Vesterstein said. “There are very few restaurants that I go to that I consider it to be an experience. The Whistling Bird [in Gilbert] I thought was an experience. … It was a really neat dining experience; that is what Mexico Lindo will be.”
Mexico Lindo replaces Baja Billy’s, another Mexican restaurant that closed in the fall after four years. Before that, Chi-Chi’s occupied the space overlooking Lake Superior for almost 22 years.
Vesterstein said a corporate issue forced Chi-Chi’s to close all of its 130 restaurants, and it was not a matter of the Duluth franchise’s performance.
“This location was always in the top five in the nation [for Chi-Chi’s], and at other times, it was the No. 1 restaurant in the nation,” Vesterstein said. “They wanted to keep the Fitger’s one open because it was extremely successful. They did great business here. Baja Billy’s had two nice operators, but they had a difficult time.
“I think Mexico Lindo will be extremely successful in that location. … They are a first-class operation and they know what they are doing.”