Winter Park-based Pepe's Cantina will open its third restaurant this spring on International Drive and is already scouting the Orlando market for a fourth location this year.
The Mexican restaurant, which features a menu showcasing asada tacos, handmade tortillas and tableside guacamole, has signed a lease with AMP Group for the space at Orlando Crossings Mall in the 5400 block of I-Drive, formerly occupied by defunct Brazilian fast-casual chain Giraffas.
The deal came together in just six days, according to Luciano Medeiros, principal at Millenia Partners. He told GrowthSpotter Pepe's owner Frank Chavez engaged his firm to help find expansion sites for the restaurant.
Chavez had very specific criteria. "It had to be a second-generation restaurant space with a full liquor license," Medeiros said. "I found this location that was under contract to another another tenant, but they were in default. We negotiated an asset purchase to take over the lease and buy the equipment."
The space can accommodate 150 diners inside and outdoors in a covered area.
Orlando Crossings East has more than 62,500 square feet across two buildings. The center is anchored by an Adidas outlet and a Banco do Brasil Americas outparcel built in 2015.
Medeiros said he's tapping his contacts in the restaurant industry to help Chavez open the I-Drive location by April 15. The first Pepe's opened in Winter Park's Hannibal Square in 2015, followed by a second location in downtown Orlando on Church Street.
"As of right now, they want to open this one first, but they are looking for more locations," he said. "They want to open a fourth store this year, if I can find them another space with the same parameters, around 2,000 to 2,500 square feet."
Target submarkets include Dr. Phillips, Lake Buena Vista, Lake Mary, Casselberry, Heathrow and the UCF area.