It's been a common question heard over the past two weeks: why did High Tide decide to become a Mexican restaurant?
Truthfully, owners Sandy and Bob Hoormann said re-opening as El Vallarta wasn't something that they had planned on, but business circumstances led them to accept the offer of a group who has three other successful restaurants in the state.
"Honestly, it was that or close," Sandy told Muskego Patch on Friday. "We have had so much happening with our kitchen, it wasn't good for the customers. We didn't seek these gentlemen out, they came to us. We wanted someone who had success previously, and these men certainly had that."
Owning two other El Vallarta's in Sparta and Tomah, and a restaurant named Los Nopales in Baraboo, Dave Ornelas Jr., and Francisco Lugo knew another business owner in Muskego, and found out that the Hoormann's were looking to lease the restaurant operations.
"I feel we can be just as successful here, especially as it's a closer location to Milwaukee, and people have a strong liking for authentic Mexican food," said.
Ornelas said in reviewing the facilities, he knew the first place to begin was with color and furniture, so repainting has already begun, and special booths from Mexico have already been ordered. In addition, a mural artist will be used to complete the atmosphere.
It's been that confidence that had the Hoormann's sold, but they made sure to first check out the other restaurants that Ornelas owned, and by all indications it was a go.
"What we've noticed is that they are incredibly focused on the customer, and very responsive to what they have to say," Sandy said. "That's really the most important thing."
Inevitably, the questions have come to Sandy and Bob: what about Tres Locos?
"We've gotten questions from just about everyone who comes in, but we feel there is room for more than one restaurant, and that the menus are different enough. We like Tres Locos, and (owner) Mary Hinners, so while we hope to be successful here, we believe they too can stay popular with their customers," Sandy said.
Hinners had told Patch that Janesville Road construction was putting a dent in her business, and that some nights about half of the clientele were coming in to dine. The location will see more construction next year as the phase I and phase II projects 'meet' at the intersection where Tres Locos is located.
What does differentiate the Hoormann's business is of course the hall, which has been the only facility in the downtown area that can accommodate large groups of 100 or more. What might impact that business is that the menu is not likely to change for those groups coming in, at least not in the near future. Ornelas explained that they would likely work with groups who have requests other than Mexican food, but for now they need to focus on what's on the initial menu.
For those of you wondering, that does mean the fish fry will no longer be offered. However, Ornelas said they would eventually work in fish tacos and other more authentic dishes on Fridays. The menu does include vegetarian dishes and gluten free choices among traditional fare.
The banquet space is also likely to be used more for restaurant space, and the booths ordered will also be placed there. However, the Hoormanns explained that groups like pool and dart leagues, and acts like Pete Sorce and the Swing Explosion would still be a part of the restaurant's offerings.
Hours for the restaurant have been expanded to 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday - Saturday, and until 9 p.m. on Sunday.