Walking around the inside and outside of Doc’s Cantina, restaurant company Falls City Hospitality Group hasn’t made much visible progress on the former Tumbleweed property.

The company has invested more than $2 million in the Mexican restaurant, but the space remains barren, with rubble, plumbing pipes and scaffolding on display.

“It might as well have been a new building,” said Brett Davis, Falls City Hospitality Group’s managing partner, referring to the high cost and extent of work the building needs. “We wish it was a little bit easier process.”

The project is expected to reach $3 million. Davis said many of the changes thus far came from moving interior walls to create different spaces, which also required moving electrical and plumbing.

“We inherited the (exterior) walls, the floors, the ceiling… but we did change quite a bit,” Davis said, pointing out that the stairwell was moved to open up the restaurant’s dining spaces.

After re-configuring the second floor kitchen — a necessity in case of flooding — the 65-person private dining room, which previously faced River Road, now overlooks the Ohio River, as does all the dining, he said.

“We think this is the greatest improvement to the customer experience,” Davis said.

Falls City Hospitality Group hired Louisville construction firm Brasch Constructors Inc. to complete the renovation.

Davis tried to get the tour group to envision what the stripped-down space would be, pointing to a makeshift bar that marked the start of what will be a large bar with about 20 seats and a tavern section of the restaurant.

The restaurant will seat close to 200 people once complete, but Doc’s Cantina still has a ways to go if Falls City Hospitality Group hopes to meet its December opening deadline.

Davis said he is confident that the project is moving along in a timely manner but did say a couple times that the opening could be pushed to early next year.

Falls City Hospitality Group plans to hired about 100 employees starting next month.

Davis declined to name the restaurant’s executive chef but said the company’s corporate chef Jonathan Schwarz is crafting the menu.

The menu will include some “tried and true” Mexican dishes, Davis said, but also don’t be surprised to see more out-of-the-box items such as beef tongue.

Falls City Hospitality Group is the Louisville-based company that operates Doc Crow’s Southern Smokehouse & Raw Bar downtown and Union Common steakhouse in Nashville.

It also is working on the 12,500-square-foot JQ Public House further down River Road and is opening a Doc Crow’s location in The Banks in Cincinnati in August 2016.

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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]