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Published: Monday, 12/27/2010

Ole Taco to close December 31

Ole Taco and Tequila Bar in downtown Toledo will close for good on New Year's Eve, after less than a year in operation, according to two of the restaurant's top employees.

The establishment, which opened in March, serves Tex-Mex fare.

Manager Kelly King said the restaurant had difficulty paying $7,000 in rent each month for the three-story building at 329 North Huron St.

"We have struggled from the beginning to pay that amount," she said. "The owner of the restaurant has attempted to negotiate several times now."

Jose Santos, the restaurant's owner, said Ole Taco does not owe any back rent, but he confirmed that the eatery had difficulty making ends meet.

"We don't make enough money," Mr. Santos said. "We don't have the sales to support our bills. It's not a good place to have a restaurant."

The building's owners, An Mynt Toledo LLC, could not be reached for comment Monday.

There are no plans to reopen Ole Taco in another location, Mr. Santos said.

The Toledo restaurant faced trouble from the start.

An Mynt, the eatery's original owner, and its four principals were sued for trademark infringement in January, when they planned to name the business Rocco's Tacos & Tequila Bar.

Florida-based Taco Tavern LLC claimed that the Toledo business had wrongly appropriated the name from a pair of restaurants it operates in West Palm Beach and Boca Raton. It also accused the Toledo restaurant of copying elaborate signs from the Florida restaurants.

An Mynt changed the business' name and its sign after that suit was filed. It's uncertain whether the business will ring in the New Year Friday night.

Ole is the second local Latin-inspired restaurant to stop operating in recent months. Tango's Latin Infused Grill at the Docks closed for the winter last month but is to reopen in April, the owner, restaurateur Tom Cousino, said. The seasonal closure is the first for the restaurant since it opened in 2000.

"In the winter time, when you don't have the ability to sit in the sunshine, it's hard to make the numbers work," Mr. Cousino said.

Contact Sheena Harrison at: sharrison@theblade.com or 419-724-6103.



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