UPDATED: MARCH 16, 2017 1:49 PM — Irving, Texas-based Mexican restaurant chain Uncle Julio's is planning its first Central Florida location on International Drive, with construction underway on the building shell at I-Drive 360.
"They're someone we've been talking to for quite some time, it will be a very cool Mexican restaurant," Chuck Whittall, president and CEO of I-Drive 360 owner Unicorp National Developments, told GrowthSpotter on Thursday.
Uncle Julio's started in Dallas in 1986, and has since grown to 21 restaurants across seven states, including one in Florida (Boca Raton). The restaurant features "scratch Mexican food," made with fresh Texas-grown ingredients, according to its website.
Amy Schuemann, senior vice president and director of leasing at Unicorp, landed the new tenant.
"They were actively looking in Orlando, specifically on I-Drive, and had been evaluating a few (locations) at the same time we'd been evaluating a few Mexican concepts for that parcel," Schuemann said. "We ultimately thought Uncle Julio's had the most beautiful buildout, and best menu and food quality to compete in that space."
Located at 8409 International Dr., on the first vacant lot directly south of The Yard House, the new 8,515-square-foot restaurant currently has part of its building shell erected. Uncle Julio's will be the 12th full-service restaurant at I-Drive 360.
Consolidated Development Services out of Dallas has been the applicant on county permit filings dating back to September 2016, and Uncle Julio's of Florida, Inc., is the tenant.
Officials with Uncle Julio's did not respond to requests for comment on Thursday regarding when the restaurant may open.
Unicorp also recently signed a lease with Legends Cigar Company, which will take 3,000 square feet of inline space next to Tapa Toro and should open by year's end, Schuemann said. The concept will be a first for the brand in Orlando and offer a full liquor bar, she added.
Three more pads directly south of the Uncle Julio's site remain undeveloped. Unicorp has "a few other tenants in discussions," said Whittall, who declined to drop names.
Inflight Dubai, self-proclaimed as the world's largest and tallest wind tunnel for skydiving, had previously been tabbed for the southernmost pad at the corner of International Drive and Via Mercado Way, first reported here in October 2015.
The company filed permit applications in early 2016 for indoor skydiving attraction "Extreme Flight Orlando" with the South Florida Water Management District. However, that project is no longer moving forward at I-Drive 360, Schuemann said.
Richard N. Rhodes out of Deerfield Beach is general contractor on the Uncle Julio's, and Hammers & Partners in Dallas is the architect.