KALAMAZOO, Mich. (WOOD) — After opening 38 other locations across the country, including five others in Michigan, Condado Tacos has officially arrived in Kalamazoo.
Founder and chief innovation officer Joe Kahn said it wasn’t a hard choice to bring another restaurant to West Michigan after seeing success in other cities, including Grand Rapids. The 39th location will open at the Corner at Drake site Thursday.
“We love Kalamazoo, we love the campus around here and we also just feel like there is no one like us around here so we really stand out,” Kahn said.
Unlike the other locations, the Kalamazoo restaurant will be home to a few firsts for the company. Art department manager Alyssa Martin said this will be the first — but not last — Condado to feature artwork on the ceilings.
The two-story eatery and bar is outfitted with Condado’s signature mural-style artwork on every wall. Every location showcases the art stylings of 10 to 12 local artists in the hope of bringing Condado closer to its communities.
“We just really feel that it brings us into the community. It makes us a part of the city before we even open the doors,” Martin said. “This works better than bringing in people from out of town. It all just makes sense.”
One artist in particular has seen the benefit of working with Condado. Elliot Chaltry began painting with the restaurant in 2020 when it opened the Grand Rapids location and has since helped design menus and merchandise. He even got the chance to create a mural at the Kalamazoo site.
“There’s a certain love for art that they have that you don’t really see with other locations or other restaurant groups,” Chaltry said.
Kahn shared that sentiment, explaining how important the local artists are.
“They bring … everything about Kalamazoo to our one location through their artwork,” he said.
The Kalamazoo location’s art theme is heavily inspired by the Kalamazoo State Theatre, with plenty of artwork showcasing performances of all different mediums.
With previous success in Michigan, the Kalamazoo spot won’t be the last branch in the state. Condado Tacos President and CEO Chris Artinian called Michigan a “very strong performing area” for the company. There are already plans to open a second Grand Rapids location in 2023, along with 11 others across the country.
Despite snowfall in West Michigan Thursday, the grand opening will go on, with the first 100 people in line receiving free tacos for a year and a free T-shirt. Kahn said he doesn’t think there will a problem getting people through the doors.
“Why should people come to Condado? Honestly, we are a fun, energetic, craveable, craveable place that is extremely affordable, especially in times like this,” Kahn said.