Historic space, new flavorPublished 10:45pm Thursday, February 13, 2014
The building at 116 W. Washington St. has a storied history as a restaurant, and that history will continue with Thursday’s opening of East Coast Taco Company.
“I’ve always had an ambition to be self-employed,” owner Jose Moncada said. “I just came across this opportunity when the building was available and took the leap of faith.”
Moncada recently graduated from culinary school at the Art Institute in Virginia Beach. It’s in his blood, too — his father owns several restaurants on the Outer Banks.
East Coast Taco Company will have a “typical Mexican menu” as a foundation but will offer other varied fare, Moncada said.
“I want to use Suffolk’s produce to play with the seasons,” he said.
The building recently had a stint as a tea room, The Plaid Hatter, after several years of upscale Italian eatery Primo 116. Many Suffolk old-timers remember its many years as the Crystal Restaurant, where, as Councilman Charles Parr put it at Thursday’s ribbon-cutting, “all the old guys would come here and pay five cents for a cup of coffee and stay all day.”
Vice Mayor Charles Brown said Thursday the restaurant had “picked a very good location.”
Directly across the street from East Coast Taco Company, Monument Construction is in the midst of a project to convert several long-vacant commercial buildings into 68 lofts with retail spaces on the ground floor.
Much of the block has been in flux for many years. Monument recently completed a smaller-scale project at the corner and, on one side of East Coast Taco Company, the National Bank building is up for sale. On its other side, a Portsmouth couple hopes to open a dance studio.