Two years ago, Laura Betancourt signed a lease for restaurant space at Robin’s Apartments, intending to move her open-air taco operation from the Red Barn Flea Market.
With renovations to bring the space up to code and other work to add the amenities needed for a comfortable restaurant setting, it took longer than expected.
On Sunday, all of Betancourt’s hard work, hopes and dreams will be realized — on Cinco de Mayo, no less — with the opening of The Spot at 2303 First St. in Bradenton.
With 4,700 square feet of air-conditioned space, indoor seating planned for 100 and an expanded menu, it will be a new experience for fans of her acclaimed tacos, considered by some to be among the best in the Bradenton area.
Mexican food lovers will find new seating, festive lighting, improved comfort and a greatly expanded menu.
The new menu includes burritos, quesadillas, tostados, sopes (a thick tortilla with vegetables and meat toppings), enchiladas, burgers, gorditas, flautas, smoothies and milkshakes.
Also offered for the first time are natural drinks, such as pineapple, cantaloupe, watermelon and hibiscus.
The Spot opens at noon Sunday with former county commissioner Robin DiSabatino doing the honors during a ribbon cutting.
“I am very excited that she is able to open it up and provide a restaurant for those who live there and out in the community,” DiSabatino said. “I’ll be coming to the opening with a ravenous appetite. I hear the tacos are excellent. And it is very apropos that she is opening on Cinco de Mayo.”
Debbie Sipp said she has heard a lot about the food at The Spot.
“I am looking forward to trying it, every bit of it, and especially the street corn,” Sipp said.
For her part, Betancourt said she knew soon after opening in the Red Barn that she wanted to move into a permanent structure so that she could realize all her ambitions for the business.
“Nothing is easy. But would I do it again? Yes,” she said. “I loved the Red Barn. That’s where it started. I told my husband when we started I was ready to give it my heart and soul for five years.”
The fact that the new location is next to the Red Barn makes it convenient for customers to find her, Betancourt said.
“Everything is made from scratch and in small batches,” she said. “If you’re in a rush, you can stop in and go. Or eat here.”
Another advantage of the new space is that she can do all of her catering work in-house: “I can do everything here,” she said.
The Spot will be open from 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday and 8 a.m.-4 p.m. Sunday. The restaurant will be closed on Monday.
For more information, call 941-741-2011 or visit The Spot’s Facebook page.
Robin’s Apartments, the former Knights Inn, is identified as affordable housing within the Bradenton community.
When its opened in 2016, furnished apartments with water, electricity, cable and internet rented for $650 a month. The complex is named after DiSabatino, who worked with owner Harvey Vengroff to help make the project possible.