BY: Kaylyn Hlavaty
CLEVELAND HEIGHTS, Ohio – Barrio is the go-to place for everything tacos and margaritas in Cleveland. Filling out the circles to choose cheeses, proteins, and toppings become sort of a fun creation to ‘build your own taco masterpiece.’
Just in time for Taco Tuesday and Fat Tuesday, Barrio is now making handcrafted tacos available to the residents of Cedar-Fairmount in Cleveland Heights.
Business partners Tom Leneghan and Sean Fairbairn wanted to expand their business to Cleveland Heights because it was an area with high traffic from the university and hospitals.
“We looked at about 100 places before settling on this location. Because Barrio means ‘neighborhood’, Cedar-Fairmount seemed like the fit because it encompasses good energy and good people,” said Fairbairn.
One common theme throughout all the Barrio locations is the sense of art. From the paintings on the walls to specialized metalwork sculptures and railings, Fairbairn believes the attention to detail is important, which is why he employs the original Barrio artist, Michael Mcnamara, to use his vision to produce an inviting space for guests.
Mcnamara, commonly referred to as Mac, has done all the artwork in the Barrio locations. For those who frequent the Tremont location, he painted the woman holding the martini glass on the side of the building. He explained how his wall paintings take the customer through a journey of life and death. An important piece of culture throughout Mexico known as Day of the Dead.
“While living in Houston, I got a lot of inspiration from the Mexican influence there. At all the Barrio locations, it starts with a man on a bike and how he meets a woman and together they go through the stages of marriage, children, and death together,” said Mac.
From the tacos to the drinks and the atmosphere in between, Barrio has a loyal growing of followers lining up at the doors, sometimes even on a two-hour wait. To date, Barrio has employed 300 people throughout the five locations.
“We focus on the quality of food and taking care of our customer. I wanted to have a place where families can bring their children and have food that is at an affordable price point,” Fairbairn said. “I think that’s why we have managed to succeed and continue to grow.”
Cedar-Fairmount location: 2466 Fairmount Avenue, Cleveland Heights