The building that once housed longtime eatery El Zocalo may soon ride again as a Mexican restaurant. The restaurant, founded by the Cordoba family in 1983, closed its doors a little more than two years ago in the Mexicantown district when the owner retired. The property was originally listed for $1.5 million. Now, the Detroit News reports that infamous Detroit building collector Dennis Kefallinos has purchased the address for $1.2 million and says he plans to reopen the restaurant this summer.
Kefallinos is a well-known Detroit building owner with a massive portfolio of properties, some of which he has turned into lofts and many which have remained vacant and blighted despite being in his possession for years. In 2017, facing numerous lawsuits, he placed 30 Detroit properties on the market including the Roosevelt Hotel near Michigan Central Station in Corktown and the former Southwest Detroit YMCA building on Clark Street.
Kefallinos has a dubious reputation as a landlord as well. Tenants in his artists lofts at the Russell Industrial Center building were ordered to vacate the property on short notice in 2017 after city inspectors identified multiple violations of building codes including significant fire hazards. The developer has also dipped into the restaurant business from time to time with ventures such as Niki’s Pizza in Greektown.
It appears that Kefallinos is now in the midst of a Southwest Detroit purchasing spree. The developer acquired a building off West Vernor and St. Anne Street, according to the Detroit News. For many months now, the buildings have boasted signs advertising: “Marketplace Opening, Spring 2019.”
This is just the latest development news to hit Southwest in the past few months. The area has seen increasing interest from investors as projects by Ford and others drive up property values in neighboring Corktown. The former Fist of Curry space on Bagley is currently undergoing a redesign to become a Mexican restaurant and bar called Peso. Restaurateur Dave Kwiatkowski is also putting plans in motion for a mixed-use development with a sushi restaurant and Korean Pub on Michigan Avenue. Nearby, Flowers of Vietnam chef George Azar just announced plans to open a Mexican restaurant in the Grosfield Building.
• Developer Buys More Empty Southwest Detroit Buildings [Detroit News]
• 30 Detroit Properties Owned by Kefallinos For Sale [CDET]
• All Eater Tracking [ED]