Park Slope Calexico Opening Stalled by Building Permit Delays

By Leslie Albrecht on August 29, 2013 8:34am 

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 Calexico hasn't opened its Park Slope location because it hasn't yet gotten a permit to renovate.
Calexico's Park Slope Location Has Been Delayed by Building Permit Hold-ups
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PARK SLOPE — Delayed building permits are preventing Park Slope foodies from chowing down on trendy Calexico tacos.

Park Slopers have been waiting since May 2012 for Calexico — the Vendy Award-winning taco truck that's launched several brick-and-mortar locations — to open in the former Blue Ribbon Sushi space on Fifth Avenue and First Street.

The wait will be over soon, Calexico partner Jesse Vendley told DNAinfo New York, but not until the restaurant gets renovation permits from the Department of Buildings.

Vendley said Calexico has been trying "for the past year or so" to obtain Department of Building permits for "simple renovations" at its Fifth Avenue space. "It's been a difficult and frustrating process, one that we did not at all anticipate when we signed the lease," Vendley said in an email.

But Vendley said he anticipates a green light from DOB soon, with the restaurant's opening to follow shortly after, though he didn't pinpoint a date.

A DOB spokeswoman said Calexico first applied for its permits in December 2012. The plans were reviewed several times by plan inspectors, who ultimately disapproved the designs in May 2013.

The spokeswoman couldn't immediately explain why the agency rejected the permit application. She noted that when the department last reviewed the restaurant's plans this spring, it handed them back to the project architect for revisions. After that, it was up to the architect to re-submit revised plans to move the process forward, the spokeswoman noted.

Calexico's architect Thomas Kowalski said he did just that on Aug. 26 and is now awaiting a response from DOB. The renovation is a "straightforward" construction job, but DOB "just wanted everything clarified," Kowalski said, adding that the permitting process was delayed in part because of summer vacations.

Meanwhile, Park Slope's Mexican food fans have watched hungrily as Calexico unveiled plans to open new locations in Queens, Long Island and even Philadelphia, under a 10-location franchise deal.

"calexico in queens?! maybe they should get the long-awaited park slope location open first," Tweeted a frustrated observer when news of the Queens location broke earlier this month.

Vendley said time hasn't dampened Calexico' desire to open its Fifth Avenue outpost.

"[We] are 100 percent focused on bringing great food at a great price point to Park Slope," Vendley said.  "This is one of the world's great neighborhoods, and we are absolutely thrilled to be setting down roots here. We're just sorry we couldn't do it quicker."

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