Updated December 4, 2020 - 10:53 am
When he bought his new restaurant building three miles from Allegiant Stadium, Javier Barajas had no idea he’d shortly be experiencing a sinking feeling.
Barajas, owner of the three Lindo Michoacan restaurants in Southern Nevada, spent $4 million for the former Rhythm Kitchen at 6435 S. Decatur Blvd., where he plans to open an Italian restaurant with homemade pasta and bread, despite the ongoing COVID-19 crisis.
“If I had known this thing was going to happen to me, I wouldn’t have bought it,” Barajas said Thursday. “But it’s too late now. If I let it go, I’m going to lose a lot of money.”
Fortunately for Barajas, the Lindo damage, which was caused by an undetected leaky pipe, wasn’t as extensive as initially feared. The damage had first manifested as cracking walls, which progressed to cracking and sinking sections of the dining room floor.
Erik Pappa, director of public communication for Clark County, said the county’s building department inspected the site Tuesday and reported that the structure appears to be fine, although sections of the slab will need to be replaced and the plumbing issue resolved.
“I was very worried that we were going to have to knock it down — the whole building,” Barajas said. “I’m so happy that we’re going to be able to save it.”
Barajas said he hopes to reopen in six to eight months. Much of the equipment was destroyed while it was being removed from the building, he said. And because his restaurants at 645 Carnegie St. in Henderson and 10082 W. Flamingo Road are operating at 25-percent capacity because of COVID-19 restrictions, those locations weren’t able to absorb any of the more than 80 people normally employed at the original spot. He said he planned to pay his employees through Thursday but wasn’t sure how long he could keep paying them.
The new restaurant, which Barajas expects to open in three to four months, will specialize in Italian cuisine.
“Besides Mexican food, which is my favorite food, I have a lot of passion for Italian food,” he said. “I’ve been to Italy a lot of times, just because of the food. My dream was to open an Italian restaurant before I die. I got the opportunity to buy this building.”
Despite the fact that his existing restaurants serve Mexican cuisine and the new one will serve Italian, Barajas said he wants it to be “just like Lindo — but really Italian. I’m going to make my own pasta, my own bread.”
“I want it to be a very family-oriented restaurant, where people can feel comfortable to take the kids,” he said. He said he frequents a lot of Italian restaurants in the area, and sometimes is reluctant to take his children because he’s afraid they’ll make too much noise.
“I want my restaurant to be different,” he said, “just like Lindo — kids can yell if they want. And not too expensive.”
He plans to name the new spot Il Toro e la Capra, Italian for “the bull and the goat,” which was inspired by his children.
“My son, Javier III, is 6,” he said. “I call him the bull. My daughter is 7; her name is Jimena. I call her the goat because she steps on top of everything. The logo, I made thinking of their faces.”