Pictured are the veggie taco, baja fish taco and carnitas taco. | Photo by Caitlin Bowling

The taco gods have heard our prayers.

Olé Restaurant Group is opening an El Taco Luchador location downtown (just a block away from Insider Louisville’s office).

The restaurant company’s owners ran an advertisement Wednesday notifying people of their plans to apply for a liquor license for 500 W. Jefferson St., the former home to Zoës Kitchen.

The building, located across the street from Metro Hall, won’t sit empty for long; Zoës Kitchen just closed a couple of weeks ago.

The downtown location will open in late summer or early fall, according to a news release. It will seat 60 people inside and 40 outside.

Olé Restaurant Group, which is owned by Fernando Martinez, his wife, Christina Martinez, and cousin Yaniel Martinez, currently has two locations — one in the Highlands and another in St. Matthews. A third is set to open up in Jeffersontown.

“We’ve been looking for a great spot downtown and we finally find the right match,” Fernando Martinez said in the release.  “We’re making some updates to give it the personality of the other locations. It will be our largest taqueria to yet at 2,300 square feet. We’re going to be walkable from the Bourbon District, the Yum! Center and of course the newly renovated convention center that is set to open soon. There’s so much great momentum.”

The restaurant group also is working on the expansion of its Highlands location on Baxter Avenue after its neighbor Mabel & Moss moved downtown. It is unclear when the expansion will be complete.

Rick Moir, managing partner for Olé Restaurant Group, said the company is still in the planning phase of the Highlands expansion, including looking at adding a bar for customers to enjoy a beer or margarita. “It’s a Highlands building, so it needs a little love,” he said.

As for the Jeffersontown location, it’s looking like it won’t open until next year, Moir said, as the project is moving through zoning. The company plans to build a large patio at that location to make the shopping center “more inviting.”

In early 2017, Fernando Martinez told Insider that he believes El Taco Luchador is the future of the Olé Restaurant Group, and the company has been working diligently to expand the concept since.

“El Taco Luchador, it appeals to more people. Everybody has $2 or $3 to get a taco,” he told Insider last year.

He noted the El Taco Luchador is easier to replicate than its other restaurant concepts because it has fewer employees and lower overhead.

Olé Restaurant Group also owns and operates Mussel & Burger Bar, Guaca Mole and Artesano Vino Tapas Y Mas. The group also jointly operates the reinvented Joe’s Older Than Dirt and recently sold another concept, Mercato Italiano Trattoria & Market in Norton Commons.

Caitlin Bowling

Caitlin Bowling

Louisville native Caitlin Bowling has covered the local restaurant and retail scene since 2014. After graduating from the Ohio University’s E.W. Scripps School of Journalism, Caitlin got her start at a newspaper in the mountains of North Carolina where she won multiple state awards for her reporting. Since returning to Louisville, she’s written for Business First and Insider Louisville, winning awards for health and business reporting and becoming a go-to source for business news. In addition to restaurants and retail business, Caitlin covers real estate, economic development and tourism. Email Caitlin at [email protected]


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