El Meson to reopen for carryout, delivery

El Meson  chicken tortilla soup and beef empanadillas sold to-go in late March. CONTRIBUTED/ALEXIS LARSEN

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El Meson chicken tortilla soup and beef empanadillas sold to-go in late March. CONTRIBUTED/ALEXIS LARSEN

West Carrollton restaurant to resume service on April 30, will offer to-go sangria, margaritas

El Meson announced today that it will be reopening later this month for carryout and delivery service.

The popular West Carrollton restaurant, located at 903 E. Dixie Drive, had been doing a booming carryout and delivery business in late March after the coronavirus pandemic shut down its dining room and all other restaurants’ dine-in services across Ohio on March 15.

But El Meson co-owner Bill Castro said in early April that his family has decided to temporarily shut down the restaurant, saying it would be “best for our customers, our family, and of course our staff,” but also promising to monitor the situation and to come back “very, very soon.”

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Today, Castro announced El Meson would return April 30 with carryout and delivery, with limited hours three days a week, as the restaurant was offering in late March.

"Now that we feel that there's a more solid foothold on the spreading (of COVID-19) and on the hospitals, we feel more comfortable opening back up," Castro said.

Taking time off has helped the restaurant fine-tune processes behind the scenes for when it reopens for business, the restaurant’s co-owner said.

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El Meson is among the restaurants offering carryout and curbside serve. Filet of fish for four is pictured.

Credit: El Meson

El Meson is among the restaurants offering carryout and curbside serve.   Filet of fish for four is pictured.

Credit: El Meson

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El Meson is among the restaurants offering carryout and curbside serve. Filet of fish for four is pictured.

Credit: El Meson

Credit: El Meson

"On April 30, we will start where we left off, to be able to direct people to order online, pay online with the same limited hours and menu," Castro said.

The state's decision to allow restaurants with a liquor license for on-premises consumption to sell two prepackaged drinks per meal also contributed to the decision to reopen for carryout, Castro said. Without alcohol sales, the carryout service was barely breaking even, he said.

Gov. Mike DeWine and Dr. Amy Acton “have been so spot-on with all of this," Castro said. "That's why we've said two weeks from today we will be opening with the information we now have from the state."

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Current plans call for the restaurant to serve three of its most popular house-made cocktails — the El Meson mojito, red sangria and margarita. Castro said they may look to add more options in the future.

The menu will be the same one they featured prior to closing — dinners for four and specialties like tortilla soup, Cuban sandwiches, quesadillas and arroz yaya. Hours will also be the same: Thursday through Saturday from 4-8 p.m. with orders cut off at 7:30 p.m. with an 8 p.m. pickup time.

There will be one notable exception to those regular Thursday-through-Saturday hours: The May 5 Cinco de Mayo celebration falls on a Tuesday this year, and El Meson plans to open that day from 4-8 p.m.

"There are so many things that we have been taking off the docket of life celebrations. Easter was so much that," Castro said. "We stayed at home thinking about it because that's one of our biggest Sundays outside of Mother's Day that we are open for. People think of us as a party environment, and we did not want to give up on it."

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Cars line up to pick up El Meson last week. CONTRIBUTED/ALEXIS LARSEN

Cars line up to pick up El Meson last week. CONTRIBUTED/ALEXIS LARSEN

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Cars line up to pick up El Meson last week. CONTRIBUTED/ALEXIS LARSEN

Castro said he and the El Meson team are planning music and decor for people to enjoy as they wait in their cars to pick up food and drink.

"If you are sitting in your car and tapping your feet, it's a reminder that you can still celebrate this and a reminder you of why you always came to El Meson," Castro said.

Castro says he recommends ordering early, because he expects the restaurant to be busy. "Customers have been so full of love and understanding and embracing us," he said.

For those who aren't venturing out yet, but miss the restaurant, Castro and his husband, Chef Mark Abbott, have been hosting “Friday watch parties” on Facebook on Fridays at 6 p.m. to share cocktail and cooking demonstrations of some of El Meson favorite dishes.

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Today's episode, April 17, will feature grilled steaks, sweet-potato fries and a chocolate Manhattan cherry cake made with Luxor cherries and bourbon.

The family-owned El Meson was launched 42 years ago, initially as a pizza shop. It expanded several times over the years and evolved into a destination restaurant featuring Mexican, Central American, South American and Spanish cuisines.

To learn more and to order online visit elmeson.net.

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