One of the most popular eateries in the Village of Northfield is tripling its indoor seating capacity, if all goes as planned.
Northfield’s Planning and Zoning Commission during its regular meeting in November recommended approval of a request from Taco Nano to amend its special-use permit and expand into the adjacent vacant tenant space.
The management team behind Taco Nano, which is located at 1743 Orchard Lane, now awaits final approval from the Northfield Village Board, which is scheduled to vote on the request Dec. 1, village officials told The Record.
Taco Nano LLC is proposing adding to its existing restaurant by expanding into the currently vacant space nextdoor. There is already a Taco Nano sign on one of the windows.
If its plans receive approval, the eatery will be moving into the approximately 900-square-foot tenant space that used to house Fit To Be Tied shoe store.
Approximately two-thirds of the restaurant’s new space, if approved, will be dedicated to a new indoor dining space, according to plans detailing the proposal. This would roughly triple the dining area the restaurant has now.
Plans show the last third of the space will accommodate the expansion of the kitchen.
The restaurant intends to knock out the common wall between the two spaces so they will flow into one harmonious space. Capacity, without restrictions related to the COVID-19 pandemic, would be capped at 81, the proposal says.
Steven Gutierrez, Northfield’s Community Development Director, told The Record that work on the restaurant’s expansion has already started.
“As the weather gets colder, they’re very interested in getting this expansion approved and actually built out,” he said. “They are actually building it out with the understanding that they can’t occupy the space until the Village Board approves it. So they were willing to take that risk and start the buildout.”
Gutierrez added Taco Nano’s team is hoping to have work done by roughly the same time the Village Board votes on it next month and would target occupying the space sometime in the first week of December.
Despite current COVID-19 mitigations measures from Gov. J.B. Pritzker that include restrictions on indoor dining, Taco Nano’s management team has still expressed interest to the village in moving forward with the expansion.
“They had been talking about this for a number of months and were thinking about it even before (the pandemic) when they had that vacant space,” Gutierrez said. “… I think they felt a little bit more urgency that they kind of wanted to maximize the indoor dining space.
“Even in the face of the most recent indoor dining restrictions, I think they’re hoping they’ll benefit from the extra space once that is relaxed at some point.”
Taco Nano has been open in Northfield since 2013. The quick-service Mexican taqueria is owned by the same ownership group behind The Happ Inn, also in Northfield.
The restaurant’s ownership team did not return The Record’s requests for comment as of publication time.
Martin Carlino is a co-founder and the senior editor who assigns and edits The Record stories, while also bylining articles every week. Martin is an experienced and award-winning education reporter who was the editor of The Northbrook Tower.