Husband-wife team Sara Bartels and Keith Hayward are opening a Chronic Tacos in Lakewood for a purely selfish reason: They would like to eat at one of their favorite taco restaurants without the round-trip airfare to California or Canada.
“My husband is from Tacoma, I’m from Southern California,” explained Bartels, who signed a franchise agreement with the company. “My husband and I are big foodies, and we wanted a Chronic Tacos closer to us, and there are none near us.”
Dave Mohammed, a member of the family that owns Chronic Tacos, said a national expansion is well underway for the California-based restaurant company. New locations are quickly joining the 37 locations already operating. Expansion has been rapid in Canada, Colorado, Utah and Alabama.
The Lakewood location will be the first in Washington state, and Bartels and Hayward have plans for more South Sound franchise locations. They’re looking in Tacoma, Puyallup, Gig Harbor and Olympia.
In Lakewood, they’ll open in a vacant space next to Target and near the movie theater. The restaurant will feature a roll-up garage door and outdoor seating. Inside, the restaurant will have fewer than 40 seats.
Chronic Tacos restaurants are known for their graphic artwork featuring a Day of the Dead theme. Bartels said she expects they’ll have a similarly themed mural installed at their location, too.
The restaurant is classified as fast casual: Diners order at the counter and can customize tacos, burritos, quesadillas, nachos, torta sandwiches and salads to order. The concept is similar to that of Chipotle or Taco del Mar. The couple plans to sell beer and wine.
At first glance, the menu lists a number of items locals might find interesting. Chronic Tacos offers al pastor (marinated pork) as a meat choice; deep fried potato tacos are another offering. “Chronic fries” look to be quite similar to carne asada fries, the San Diego specialty (call it San Diego poutine) that I can find at only a handful of restaurants here. They’ll also serve breakfast tacos and breakfast burritos.
The couple has submitted building permits, and if all goes as planned, they’ll have a December opening.
Where: 5720 Lakewood Towne Center Blvd., Lakewood; chronictacos.com.
Opening: December, if all goes as planned.