El Patron to open in downtown Baldwin City within days
Its owner and Baldwin City’s building inspector agree that the long-awaited opening of El Patron appears to be imminent.
Beto Aquilar, owner of the Mexican restaurant, said El Patron would open two days after a final city inspection. That would give employees time to stock the restaurant with food and do some advance food preparation, he said.
Baldwin City zoning and codes administrator Tina Rakes said the restaurant appeared ready for its final inspection. She was at the restaurant at 711 Eighth St. on May 1 for an inspection of the hood above the stove, and there were only a few minor things to be done before El Patron was ready for the final inspection, Rakes said. She was expecting a Monday or Tuesday call from Aquilar to schedule the inspection.
A sign announcing the opening of El Patron was posted last August. Work was started on the former home of Wheat State Pizza that month with those involved saying it would open before September.
That, of course, didn’t happen and very little else appeared to be going on at the site until late February, when work resumed. At that time, Aquilar said it would open by April 1.
Again, the restaurant didn’t open although work continued through April and early May.
Aquilar said difficulties in obtaining a liquor license from the state were behind the delay. The restaurant, which is associated with the El Mezcal restaurants in Lawrence and Jalapenos in Tonganoxie, filed forms with the state for the liquor license that basically copied those filed for Jalapenos, he said.
“When we filed forms for Jalapenos, the state said they were the most complete they ever received,” he said. “But they didn’t like ours. Once we found out what they wanted, it went OK. But it was step by step.”
With the state’s approval of the liquor license, the Baldwin City Council would not have to take action on the license, Rakes said. Her office would give administrative approval with a successful final inspection of the restaurant.
Aquilar said another reason for the delay in opening was the extensive modifications required to convert the pizza parlor to El Patron’s needs.
Indeed, customers will hardly recognize El Patron as the old Wheat State. Booth seating has replaced tables and chairs and a wall with Spanish-architectural arches provide privacy to one seating section.
El Patron’s food will be familiar to those who have dined at the El Mezcal locations in Lawrence, Aquilar said. The menu includes steak, seafood and vegetarian dishes in addition to standard Mexican fare.
El Patron will be open from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday. A breakfast menu will be available from 7 a.m. to 11 a.m., Aquilar said.