Bistro 1907 Owner Targets June for Wahaka Opening in Howland

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – Local restaurateur Mark Canzonetta plans to open his first Wahaka Taco and Tequila Bar this June in the building formerly occupied by Sunrise Inn Express in Howland.

Canzonetta announced plans to open his second restaurant concept at 205 Niles-Cortland Road NE in a Facebook post Thursday afternoon. He opened Bistro 1907 in the Stambaugh Building, where the DoubleTree by Hilton Youngstown Downtown hotel operates, in 2018.

“It’s a great location. The traffic count is unbelievable,” he said in a phone interview following the social media announcement.

According to a 2021 study, the average daily traffic count for East Market Street west of state Route 46, or Niles-Cortland Road, is 11,396 and 6,354 east of Route 46, Ray Marsh, public information officer for the Ohio Department of Transportation District 4 office. The average daily traffic count for Route 46 between state Route 82 and East Market is 15,156.

Since shortly after opening Bistro 1907, Canzonetta has discussed opening a restaurant that would offer genuine Mexican cuisine in downtown Youngstown.

The approximately 3,000-square-foot Howland building will allow him to test the concept while coping with the challenges he and other restaurant operators are facing in terms of finding staffing, he said. Wahaka will open with a team of 20, not the 50 that would be required for a full restaurant.

The Howland Wahaka will serve primarily as a takeout location, though it will have a couple standing tables at the front and potentially a couple sit-down tables outside if permitted by the health board, he said. He also plans to seek a liquor license so the restaurant can sell boozy slushies, margaritas and Mexican beer to go.

“We’re going to try to give our most authentic take on tacos we can give. You know me, I like to put authentic behind whatever we do,” he said. “The only American thing there will be Mexican Coca-Cola.”

Whether Wahaka opens in early or late June, Canzonetta said, will depend on how he is able to navigate another obstacle familiar to businesses nowadays: the supply chain, mainly with regard to the equipment he will need to open.

The restaurateur also said he hasn’t ruled out downtown Youngstown as a Wahaka location. The space he considered remains available as are others. One possible location he has considered is the vacant space in the Stambaugh Building adjacent to Bistro 1907.

“I just want to see how this summer is,” with COVID-19 hopefully less of a factor and attractions like the Covelli Centre and the Youngstown Foundation Amphitheatre attracting people to the central business district, he said.

Copyright 2024 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.