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El Jefe’s Taqueria, a staple of Harvard Square, is set to move into a new location around the corner from its current storefront in August.
The restaurant, one of the Square’s most popular late-night eateries, will join a planned Starbucks, a comedy club, and a gym in The Abbot building, a historic site located at the intersection of Brattle Street and John F. Kennedy Street. The building, which formerly housed the famous Curious George Store, has been under renovation since 2019.
The Garage, where El Jefe’s is currently located, is scheduled to undergo major renovations of its own in the coming months.
El Jefe’s owner John F. Schall said he anticipates starting construction by the end of March. He hopes to transition from one location to the other without significant disruption to restaurant operations.
“We’re going to close that space around 4 p.m. on Sunday, Aug. 7,” he said. “There’s going to be a mariachi band that parades my staff from 83 Mount Auburn St. around the corner to the new space at The Abbot building. And then at 7 o'clock that night, we're going to have a big, kick-ass party.”
El Jefe’s currently operates six storefronts, having continued expansion throughout the pandemic. The restaurant intends to open two new branches in the upcoming year.
“We've never been able to really celebrate each of these new stores,” Schall said. “This is going to be a celebration not just for the new Harvard Square store, but of what El Jefe’s has been able to do in the last two years.”
The Abbot is being renovated by real estate company Regency Centers, Shawmut Design and Construction, and architecture firm Prellwitz Chilinski Associates. The renovation of the historic building aims to achieve a top environmental distinction — Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Silver certification — according to a press release.
“The project team has worked closely with the community, planning department, and Historical Commission to achieve a design and plan that is both elegant and responsive to the current needs of tenants while preserving the buildings’ rich history,” the press release said.
“It couldn't be a more perfect location for El Jefe’s,” Schall said. “We are essentially in the space in The Abbott building that was occupied by the first floor of Urban Outfitters before they did the renovations to that building. So we'll have an entrance both on Brattle Street and on JFK Street.”
The new location also offers the restaurant increase in floor space.
“It's almost twice as much square footage as our existing location,” Schall said. “We'll have a double line there. You'll be able to go into the middle where the tortilla presses are to start, and then you can go in either direction, so there will be at least twice the seating capacity.”
Schall said the new location will help El Jefe’s to be able to serve more customers.
“Right now, we're absolutely capacity constrained,” he said. “We lose, you know, 50 to 100 people a night that just don't wait because from 10 p.m. to 3 a.m., the line’s too long.”
—Staff writer Katherine M. Burstein can be reached at email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @kmburstein1.
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