Taqueria Los Ocampo
has livened up the long-vacant space that once housed Bakers Square on St. Paul’s East Side.
The restaurant, which is the fifth Los Ocampo location in the Twin Cities, opened on May 1.
Now it’s in the process of adding an outdoor dining section that hopefully will be ready by fall, according to Robert (Mingo) Mendez, who’s a consultant to the restaurant.
He says that the patio will be “built from scratch,” with stamped concrete, colorful patterns, and possibly an outdoor fireplace.
Similarly, after the restaurant owners purchased the building, they totally revamped the interior, he says.
The $500,000 renovation involved removing a dropped ceiling, painting the rafters, and opening up the space to accommodate large groups.
New lighting fixtures, an aquarium, and bar were also installed.
Arches in the doorways, tile mosaics, exposed brick walls, and a fireplace, along with plenty of earth tones, characterize the place.
With the exception of the TV screens, “You could put it in Mexico and it would fit right in,” he says, adding, “It has authentic food and atmosphere.”
Lots of flowers and hanging plants, along with Mexican pottery and paintings, add to the ambiance of the restaurant, which seats up to 120 people.
Betsy Leach, who is the executive director of the District 1 Community Council
, says that the restaurant has had a positive impact on the neighborhood.
Previously, having “such a prominent location stay vacant was a real sore point with neighbors,” she says via email.
The neighborhood is supportive of the building's transformation. “The owners have done a beautiful job of renovation, creating a unique location in our area,” she says.
Source: Robert (Mingo) Mendez, consultant, Los Ocampo; Betsy Leach, executive director, District 1 Community Council
Writer: Anna Pratt