The restaurant is slated to open by the first or second week of June.
When Alex Reyes moved to the Midlands from Myrtle Beach three years ago, he noticed something.
“There wasn’t much original regional food, like more family-oriented food,” he said of the area’s Mexican restaurants.
And so that’s what he and his brother and business partner, Luis Reyes, decided to try to bring with Que Bueno Bar & Grill, the Mexican restaurant they opened in Irmo nine months ago next to the Publix in the Kennerly Crossing shopping center.
Now, less than a year later, they’re expanding to Lexington, taking over the spot at 407 N Lake Dr. that was previously occupied by Comfort Scratch Kitchen, which closed in April.
Reyes said the Lexington location should open by the first or second week of June.
He explained that he and his brother weren’t looking to expand so soon after opening their first location, but the owner of the Lexington building approached them, and the possibilities were too good to pass up.
The somewhat unusual location — a house-like building with a curved brick driveway in front and a garden with a large, attached patio and tent behind — brought with it the possibility of holding special events, something that’s impossible at the brothers’ strip mall home in Irmo.
Reyes added that the Lexington restaurant will hopefully host regular live music in that garden tent and speculated with excitement about how big they will be able to make their Cinco De Mayo celebration at the new location next year.
Lexington isn’t the end of Que Bueno’s expansion aims, as Reyes said the brothers are already looking at Cayce and Forest Acres as spots for potential additional locations.
While the brothers are ambitious, Reyes said they want to keep the chain manageable so as to maintain the quality of their food, which he said is how they look to stand apart from other Mexican eateries in the Midlands.
“We're not like a franchise or anything like that. So we're always there,” he said. “Checking the food every time in the morning. Make sure everything's fresh. Our menu is kind of small compared to the ones around here. So keep everything as fresh as possible.”
The not overly expansive Irmo menu, which Reyes said will remain the same at the Lexington location, includes house specialties such as a Que! Bueno Burger (topped with pulled pork), Spicy Buffalo Chicken Tacos, alambres, carnitas and more. The rest of the menu is largely filled out with familiar favorites like chimichangas, burritos and enchiladas. For dessert, there is a Postres menu that features items such as flan and churros.
Reyes spoke with excitement about the decor at the new spot, which he said will include a hanging garden above diners’ heads.
Like the Irmo location, the Lexington one will offer beer, wine and liquor.
Reyes stressed that the restaurant’s emphasis on family extends to the kitchen, where the main chef, who has been cooking Mexican cuisine for more than 30 years, prepares recipes handed down by his parents.
Que Bueno comes to the heart of Lexington just after a pair of high-profile Southwestern-leaning restaurants announced locations along Main Street. The Japanese/Southwest concept Takosushi and the adventurous taco spot Barrio Tacos + Tequila + Whiskey are slated to open across the street from each other near the Icehouse Amphitheater, less than a half mile away from Que Bueno’s new home.
Reyes said he wasn’t aware of these forthcoming restaurants when the Chronicle mentioned them, but he isn’t worried about them.
“It's not about competition. Everybody can help each other,” he said. “There’s enough people for everybody.”
“You see steakhouses, like there’s Outback Steakhouse and then Texas Roadhouse and everything right next to each other,” Reyes added. “Even if you’re the same, people get tired of your restaurant and go to the other restaurant.”
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