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Published: Wednesday, 5/4/2011

Family restaurant to open at the Docks


A family business with Mexican restaurants in the Toledo and Columbus areas, and in Monroe has worked out a deal to open El Vaquero — the name of all their restaurants — at The Docks on the East Toledo riverfront.

The business will take the space formerly occupied by Tango’s and next door to Admiral’s American Grille, the venue that replaced the former Navy Bistro.

Representatives of El Vaquero (“the cowboy” in Spanish) signed a 26-year lease Tuesday with The Docks Venture LLC, which operates Admiral’s American Grille and the Courtyard, a banquet facility at The Docks, said Mike Howard, general manager of Admiral’s American Grille. The Docks partnership includes his brother Habib and their first cousin Mike McKarus.

The contract is for an initial six-year term and four five-year options, Mr. Howard said. He did not disclose what the lease payments will be.

In March, The Docks Venture LLC signed a 25-year lease on the properties with Dashing Pacific Group Ltd., a U.S. corporation formed by Chinese investors Yuan Xiaohona and Wu Kin Hung. Dashing Pacific bought the restaurant and entertainment complex from the city of Toledo for $2.15 million.

Local restaurateur Tom Cousino closed Old Navy and the banquet center in January.

Mike Howard said he was a regular at El Vaquero locations in Columbus when he lived there.

“I thought they had great food, a great concept and were strong financially,” Mr. Howard said.

Arnie Lopez, a partner in El Vaquero, said that the business has been in operation for 20 years.

“It’s authentic Mexican, not Taco Bell,’’ Mr. Lopez said. “We know what people like.”

He said El Vaquero at The Docks likely will open next month.

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