The River District’s new taco and tequila bar features faded brick interior, Day of the Dead themes and a long bar that includes wood salvaged from the third floor of an old Craghead Street building.
Offering more than 100 varieties of tequila and nine taco options, Mucho Taqueria and Tequileria at 530 Craghead St. held a ribbon-cutting ceremony on a bright but slightly chilly Friday morning.
City officials, the eatery’s owners, employees and others gathered to celebrate the addition of another small business to the downtown.
Danville Vice Mayor Alonzo Jones, who led the event, said the name “mucho” — the Spanish word for “much” or “many” — was an apt one for the business.
“This is an appropriate name for the first restaurant to open along the 500 block of Craghead Street — a block that has seen ‘mucho’ or much change over the past two years,” Jones said during the ceremony.
Many people remember blighted buildings and empty storefronts that created a block with a decayed appearance, Jones said. But developer and Mucho co-owner Rick Barker saw an opportunity “to bring something unique through design and experience to our community,” the vice mayor added.
“This area of our River District is being brought back to life through phased development of new, upscale apartments and commercial units,” Jones said, referring in part to Barker’s efforts in refurbishing part of Craghead Street.
Barker partnered with well-known restaurateur Stephan Parry, managing partner of the Richmond-based Parry Restaurant Group, to open up Mucho in Danville. Parry Restaurant Group has more than a dozen restaurants in Virginia, including Cotton at Riverside Mill in the River District.
“He is one of the most sought-after restaurateurs in Virginia and in the mid-Atlantic,” Barker said. “He chose Danville, Virginia.”
Parry was once vice president of operations for the popular chain Ruth’s Chris Steak House, based in Winter Park, Florida.
Barker, president and CEO of the Danville-based Supply Resources, recited a long list of the River District’s special attractions including the Riverwalk Trail, Community Market, Danville Science Center, and many others. “But I’m not going to talk about that,” he joked.
Instead, he talked in glowing terms about what he said the River District does not have: large and impersonal corporate chain stores that spend tens of millions of dollars to convince consumers to drive into the sprawl to buy something generic, only to have them call an 800 number for customer service that has been outsourced.
When a locally-owned business employee or proprietor says “welcome, thank you and please come back,” that person is sincere, Barker said.
“We’re not saying that because it’s in the corporate manual,” he said. “We say it because we mean it.”
Diana Schwartz, executive director of the River District Association, pointed to the millions of dollars in investment that have poured into the River District in the last decade.
“The River District has seen $127 million in public and private investment in the last 10 years,” Schwartz told attendees. “Downtown Danville is enjoying a resurgence that few could have imagined.”
Danville Economic Development Director Telly Tucker said Mucho brings “a unique flair” to the district.
“You can’t get this anywhere else because each of Mr. Parry’s restaurants are different,” he said.
Customer Jeff Dodson did not eat, but tried a shot of Don Julio Reposado tequila, a favorite he has had in Mexico.
“We’ll definitely be back to eat,” Dodson said. “Fish tacos are one of my favorites.”
During the ceremony, Barker said people have approached him and asked what they can do to help sustain the River District.
“Buy a taco,” Barker said to attendees.
Mucho is open 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday-Thursday, and 11 a.m. to midnight Friday-Saturday.
John Crane reports for the Danville Register & Bee. Contact him at email@example.com or (434) 791-7987.