How eager are people for the opening of The Macho Nacho in Chevy Chase? Last week, a driver stopped at the traffic light at High and Euclid shouted to one of the new waitresses to ask if the restaurant was open.
It will be on Dec. 14, as anyone who has driven down a major road in Lexington knows, thanks to eight billboards announcing the launch. And then there’s owner Aaron Rothke himself. For months, he’s been a walking, talking billboard.
“I’ve got about 12 of these shirts,” Rothke said, pointing to his Macho Nacho T-shirt. “Any time I’m in public, I’m in the shirt.” And sometimes he’s in his Macho Nacho cowboy hat as well.
Rothke, a first-time restaurant owner, is leaving nothing to chance to make sure The Macho Nacho has a successful launch. In May, Rothke announced his plan for a Tex-Mex original concept. He had planned to open in September, but getting things right took a little more time, and Rothke wants to get it right. He worked for several years on a business plan that a bank would back; he hired a restaurant consultant to walk him through the fine points.
And he hired local interior designer Liz Toombs, owner of Polka Dots and Rosebuds, to give the place a new look.
Rothke thought it was important for Macho Nacho to be bright and colorful but have a more updated feel. So Toombs added a blue epoxy finish to the floor, some Southwestern upholstered booths and colorful touches throughout.
“He trusted me to go bold,” Toombs said.
For the walls, Rothke asked BroCoLoco — brothers Jared and Aaron Scales of Lexington — to paint some wonderful murals that incorporate Kentucky influences into Mexican iconography.
It’s an iconic corner, for decades the home of The Saratoga. But in recent years it’s had a quick turnover of restaurants.
Rothe, an accountant by profession, hopes to break that cycle.
He plans on giving customers what they crave: chips and salsas when they sit down at the table, comfortable seats, great service, and a family-friendly atmosphere with lots and lots of TVs to watch sports.
And he will offer delivery to the downtown area, including the UK campus and hospitals. He expects to draw customers from the Chevy Chase neighborhood as well as college students.
“I felt for a long time that there was a niche for a Tex-Mex place that delivered,” Rothke said.
Ultimately, the success of the place will come down to the food. Macho Nacho will serve lunch and dinner, and brunch on weekends. Rothke has a full menu planned with, yes, nachos, but lots of sandwiches and burgers for lunch and more adventurous plates for dinner.
“We’re not trying to be authentic. We’re strictly Americanized Tex-Mex,” Rothke said.
Macho Nacho will have an extensive tequila list and 24 beers on tap, including one very special one: “We’re going to have an exclusive beer from Rooster Beer that’s likely to be called the Macho Nacho Lime ... made with key limes for a little sweetness,” Rothke said.
Chef Jeff Vaughn, former corporate chef for R.J. Corman in Nicholasville, will prepare almost all of the menu items fresh, Rothke said.
“The only thing we plan to have frozen is the ice cream,” he said.