The well-regarded and popular Asada Grill & Cantina is moving from its home near the train tracks in downtown Griffith to a much larger location at the former Zuni's House of Pizza spot in Highland, which has sat vacant for two years.
The Mexican restaurant, voted one of the top 50 in Indiana by Yelp users, is moving about three miles northwest to 2907 45th Avenue. It's already posted a sign in front of the building that has previously been home to many restaurants and nightclubs, including Sabor Restaurant & Tequila Bar and HiFi Roadhouse.
Owner Rigo A. Gutierrez said the hope was to move into the 250-seat restaurant with a 50-person party room within two months. The Griffith restaurant will remain open until then. It's about twice as large as the current 120-seat eatery, and Gutierrez expects to have to double his staff to 40 people.
"I was leasing the property where I'm at and was supposed to buy it, but things didn't go as planned, so I started to look at other locations," he said.
Asada had hoped to expand at its current location, after buying the property and a neighboring house that would have been torn down to make room for more parking. It especially needed more kitchen space.
"We already needed to make it bigger thanks to God and all our amazing regulars," he said. "People would come in our parking lot and have to turn around because they couldn't fit in."
Gutierrez said he's sorry to leave Griffith because it built the restaurant up into a success, but that the new location was so close they hoped to retain most of their regulars and get new ones.
"Research showed we're pulling people from many different directions," he said. "We optimistic we'll continue to do it because we're almost in the same neighborhood."
Diners have praised Asada for its carne asada, pork tacos, queso poblano and margaritas. It specializes in Mexican City cuisine and has an extensive menu that includes whole tilapia, Mahi Mahi Ala Mexicana, Enchiladas Suizas, Rib Eye Ranchero, Chicken Fajitas and Fish Tacos.
Asada, Stacks Bar & Grill in Valparaiso, Bombers BBQ in Munster were the only three in the Region to crack Yelp's top 50 in Indiana last year. It opened in 2014, replacing the longtime institution Niko's Steak and Seafood on Broad Street in Griffith.
It will move into the much bigger space where Zuni's House of Pizza operated a family-style pizzeria with a full bar and a private party room between 2013 and 2016. Gutierrez said few updates were needed since it had just been a restaurant, but it would be renovated to give it more of the atmosphere Asada is known for.
For more information, call (219) 934-0400.