A Mexican restaurant near downtown Napa will disappear, only to come back bigger and shinier.
A stucco-clad, Spanish Colonial-style building will become the new home of Taqueria Maria. The city Planning Commission on Thursday cleared the restaurant’s owner David Reynoso to demolish his existing space and build its replacement immediately west, on the same property at 640 Third St. opposite the Napa Valley Expo.
At 2,122 square feet, the new Taqueria Maria will nearly double the restaurant’s floor area. The expansion will not only allow more customers to visit, but also open up more kitchen and storage space – and let visitors take in the view of the Napa River to the north, Napa architect Robert Juarez told officials.
More visible than the new building’s size will be its historical touches, according to Juarez, who penned a thick-walled design with a tiled roof, large, square metal frame windows, and a smooth plaster finish inspired by mission-style architecture in Santa Barbara. A stone surround will frame the main double doors, which will be glass with decorative wrought iron.
The goal is to create a home for Taqueria Maria that is at once more efficient and more authentic, said Juarez. “There’s a lot of Spanish-style buildings around, but a lot of them just have a Spanish-style roof and don’t follow through on what the stucco or the windows should look like,” he told commissioners.
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Bookending the new Taqueria Maria will be a patio on the south facing Third Street, and a concrete deck on the north to give diners a river view.
“It’s good to see this (restaurant) take advantage of its site and open up to the river,” said Commissioner Paul Kelley. “I think it’ll be a great addition to the city.”
Formerly home to a miniature golf course, the Third Street lot is in a zone that Napa shifted from commercial to residential uses in 1998. However, several nearby residential lots require too great a setback from the river to be easily buildable, a fact city staff said should allow the Mexican restaurant not only to stay open but also expand.
Reynoso applied for the expansion after his taqueria failed two out of four Napa County health inspections in 2014 and 2015. Last April, an inspector docked the restaurant 44 points in a report that noted incorrect food storage, defrosting and temperatures, as well as a need for the facility “to be cleaned throughout.”
Reynoso, the owner since 2009, replaced two refrigerators after the second failing grade, according to Justin Oram, a previous restaurateur at the site.