Berkeley restaurant Tacubaya moves 2 doors down to new Fourth Street space

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It was 2:35 p.m. on a weekday, and the line was out the door at Mexican restaurant Tacubaya, which recently relocated to 1782 Fourth St.

A popular eatery that opened in 2003, Tacubaya reopened at its new, larger location three weeks ago, two doors down from its former venue at 1788 Fourth St.

The new space, which features a bar and a patio, was formerly occupied by Pompette, a French-style eatery that had only been at that location for one year, according to Tacubaya manager Ricardo Andrade.

Andrade added that the change has been a positive development, saying customers can now drink and eat outside because of the liquor license the restaurant obtained for its patio area. He said he is not worried about the restaurant turnover rate, attributing Pompette’s lack of success to high prices and lack of advertising rather than location.

“Customers are happier. It’s getting a lot busier,” Andrade said.

Return customer Robin Harrison admired the new location, which features the restaurant’s classic pink walls and wooden chairs as well as large wooden chandeliers and a second floor.

“(Their) food is a little bit different, healthier,” Harrison said. “They deserve to have a good place.”

Back at its old location, blackboard menus and furniture were still stacked in place, and the area was roped off with a metal chain.

Arthur Perley, manager of Vino! — a wine shop next to Tacubaya’s former unit — had no complaints about the move. While he is still friendly with his former neighbors, he said, he enjoys the current peace and quiet away from the “hustle and bustle” of the restaurant.

“Business has not gone down. With the quiet, people (are) spending more time in here,” Perley said. “We’re (now) ‘where the wine store is’ … not ‘where the taqueria is’ — though it’s a bit early to tell.”

Fiance Brown, a bakery/sales staff member at Market Hall Foods next door to Tacubaya’s new location, agreed that the move was positive, saying that fewer people have been eating outside the grocery store’s entrance since Tacubaya expanded its seating.

Though Tacubaya’s menu has remained the largely same since the move, Andrade said the restaurant’s owner, Dona Savitsky, is seeking to expand toward catering and “whole meals,” such as whole and half roasted chickens with sides.

Savitsky, who also owns Oakland eatery Doña Tomás, is a “very hands-on” employer, according to Andrade. Andrade also said he enjoys his work at Tacubaya, especially the opportunity to expand his skill set beyond his job description — he is looking forward to learning how to bartend at the new location.

On the wide blackboard menus covering the wall beside the new entrance, a worker peeled away a tape stencil and began to fill the spaces with paint, spelling “Tacubaya” in large capital letters.

Harrison, take-out bag in hand, re-entered to grab hot sauce and water from a stand near the entrance.

“So beautiful!” Harrison said, looking around the space.

Contact Anna Ho at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @anna_j_ho.