December 19, 2014
1:28 am

Azul Tequila Update

If Carlos Ortiz had his way, we'd all be gathering for a holiday toast right now in his sparkling new Azul Tequila Restaurant in the Courthouse Square in downtown St. Joseph.  Unfortunately for Carlos and all of the rest of us, a rather extensive list was handed to him recently by the Michigan Liquor Control Commission inspectors detailing a laundry list of issues that need to be resolved before the business can open up shop.
One major item on that list was a virtual reconstruction of the building's sprinkler system.  Also on the punch list were some issues with electrical service, and completion of installations in the kitchen. Carlos is not despairing, however, as he remains at the mercy of holiday period schedules for both contractors and inspection teams.  He appears to be taking it all in stride, despite the fact that the Ortiz family had planned to be well underway with service to the community by now.  

I chatted briefly with Carlos this afternoon inside the spacious restaurant and bar at a major crossroads in the center of the action downtown. The Courthouse Square property sits across Port Street from the Berrien County Courthouse...and across Ship Street from the St. Joseph Post Office.  The months long renovation process has paid handsome dividends for Ortiz and his brother from Kalamazoo who have done an extensive makeover inside.

Included in the wall to wall remodeling you will find massive, colorful murals, creation of a small Mexican village look and feel with overhead faux balconies, a central fountain that anchors the main dining room as if it were the town square, and a massive chandelier created from an array of used tequila bottles designed to draw considerable reaction from arriving guests. Carlos says that the eatery should be capable of handling up to 160 guests comfortably once they are open for business.  

So...the big question now is when will those guests be allowed to begin arriving on the scene? Carlos tells me he hopes that the punch list of inspector-driven upgrades will be complete and they can be open by mid-to-late January.  The yet-to-be-completed work list is extensive enough that it could actually be February before the doors swing open, but Carlos has pledged to keep me up to date as the work progresses.
In the meantime, the Ortiz family has hired key personnel for the kitchen staff, and additional applications are being accepted for other positions on the staff.  A weather-protected plexiglass box has been placed at the entrance ramp to the front door for those interested in picking up an application from the restaurant, even if no one is on premises when you stop by.  
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People : Carlos Ortiz