A new restaurant is opening in the former NYP Bar and Grill near Tacoma Mall.
Miguel Contreras plans to open his second Tonala Mexican Restaurant in early 2018 at 3702 S. Fife St.
He opened the first Tonala Mexican Restaurant in Spanaway in 2015, but the family owned a trio of Mexican restaurants for years before that. He operates Tonala with his wife Connie and two children, who also attend college.
The first El Patio restaurant opened in Pierce County in 1995. The second followed in 1997. A third followed in Yelm two years later.
Seven years ago, Contreras sold all three.
“We wanted to retire from the restaurant business,” said Contreras. He added, “It didn’t work.”
They named their post-retirement restaurant after a city in Jalisco in the Guadalajara region where Contreras also is from.
“My wife went to college in Guadalajara and she loved Tonala. Every time we go to Mexico we go to Tonala. It’s a beautiful little town.”
The city’s name comes from the Nahuatl phrase “tonallan,” Contreras said. That phrase translates into, “the sun rises.”
Contreras plans to duplicate the menu and decor of the Spanaway restaurant. His wife is working on importing some of the character of their original location to the Tacoma Mall neighborhood.
The Tacoma restaurant will be the largest the family has owned. The dining room seats around 160 and the expansive bar will seat about 120 more.
Tonala Mexican Restaurant
Where: 22225 Mountain Hwy E., Spanaway; 253-375-7333; tonalamexicanrestaurant.com.
Next: The Tacoma location of Tonala Mexican Restaurant will open in early 2018 at 3702 S. Fife St.