When restaurateur Ken Yowell closed Calavera Empanadas earlier this year, he didn’t rule out an eventual return. That return came sooner than expected, though.
“I hoped to maybe take a vacation,” Yowell said Tuesday. “There’s always next year.”
Calavera will reopen sooner rather than later in the space now occupied by Tasty 8’s at 121 Fayetteville St.
Unfortunately, that means the gourmet hot dog and Belgian fries joint will close, with Thursday, April 5, as its last day.
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Dentist Dr. Brett Wells opened Tasty 8’s in 2014 but said the demands of owning a restaurant are too great as he prepares to open his third dental office. He said he had been looking for an exit strategy for a while, so he put Tasty 8’s on the market and Yowell scooped it up.
“After three and a half years and nearly a quarter million dogs served, I have decided it is time to close Tasty 8s,” Wells said in a statement. “While I have truly enjoyed my experiences with the restaurant, my dental business has grown to a point where I no longer have time to operate Tasty 8s. I would like to thank all of our amazing customers over the years and am so excited to help Ken and Anna bring back such a popular downtown Raleigh establishment.”
Yowell said he closed Calavera primarily because of a cramped kitchen and a timely offer from another restaurateur to take over the space. There was no hood on the stovetop or a deep fryer. Yowell said the Tasty 8’s space allows him to run the restaurant he wants.
“The kitchen at Calavera was such a drag,” Yowell said. “Tasty 8’s popped up on our radar as being for sale, so we reached out to Dr. Wells. It looks like it’s going to be a perfect fit.”
The new Calavera will have more than twice the seating as the old location on South Blount Street, plus churros and possibly breakfast, keeping the Latin-focused concept open from early to late. He plans to keep the walk-up window.
Yowell said he’s still in the early stages of relocating Calavera but likes the idea of a pop-up Cinco de Mayo event in the new space on May 5. After some renovations, he hopes to open back up by June.
The former Calavera space will become the Davie Street Pub, a new bar by Dan Lovenheim, who also owns Capital City Tavern and Cornerstone Tavern. Lovenheim declined to offer details about his new venture but said it will be smaller than Capital City and will open this summer.
“I can say this,” Lovenheim said. “It will be awesome.”