The long-revolving corner spot at J and 10th streets in Modesto has found a new tenant.
Azucar Latin Grill & Mojito Bar opened at the end of December in the downtown site and has been serving Latin American fare.
Owner and chef Marco Rondon moved from San Jose to Modesto to open the new nightspot at 1001 10th St. with his brother Hugo Zuniga, who runs the bar. Rondon owned a restaurant in San Jose for 16 years.
"I fell in love with the location," he said. "I thought my concept would fit well with it."
That concept is a mix of South and Central American cuisines from Peru, Argentina, Mexico and more.
The restaurant is named after salsa queen Celia Cruz and will have live Latin music Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights. Rondon said he wants people to enjoy the fusion of food and music.
The mojito bar features some 20 flavors of the popular Cuban drink.
Rondon said he hopes the restaurant's diverse menu will attract an equally diverse crowd.
Specialties include churrasco (marinated tenderloin steak with plantains), ceviche (sea bass in lime, chili, onions and cilantro) and filete à la jalapeña (steak in a jalapeño sauce).
Azucar also serves popular favorites such as enchiladas, fajitas and chimichangas. Happy hour and lunch specials are available.
The space has been home to a host of eateries including the Red Pepper Cafe, Blue Tide Cantina, Sharkey's Crab Shack and most recently The Nines.
Azucar kept The Nines' elaborate custom double doors. Inside, Rondon has changed the color scheme.
"We are a family-oriented restaurant and we've done it before," he said. "We want to share with the town and make them feel they are home."
Azucar seats about 180 and is open for lunch and dinner from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Wednesday, 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. Thursday through Saturday and 12 to 8 p.m. Sunday. Call 522-6300.
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Husband-and-wife owners Yoke Seng Chong and Ying Tang bring more than two decades of experience to Turlock's Chong's Cuisine.
Opened in late December at 1801 Countryside Drive, the eatery offers a combination of Chinese and Thai food.
This is the couple's first restaurant, but they are no novices. Tang was the chef at Golden China in Turlock for 23 years before she left last summer. Chong worked there for 13 years before leaving several years ago.
Chong said the slow economy gave them a chance to strike out on their own. The Thai and Chinese approach has helped bring in customers, especially indecisive ones.
"Right now business is 50/50 (Chinese and Thai)," Chong said.
House specialties include moo shu pork, orange chicken, Mongolian beef and pineapple prawns. Lunch plates start at $5.49, dinner at $6.49. Chong is offering a free appetizer for each $20 spent and free chow mein for each $25 through May.
Dine-in and takeout are available. The restaurant seats 43. Hours are 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday and is closed Sunday. Call 656-9189.
Have an item for Business Beat? Contact Marijke Rowland at The Modesto Bee, P.O. Box 5256, Modesto 95352; 578-2284 or firstname.lastname@example.org.