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El Metate now open

Mexican restaurant El Metate is now open in the former Seventeen Ninety space in Signal Plaza after several months’ delay.

El Metate was originally slated to open in late December, but overview manager Hugo Gonzales said it has taken more time than expected to adapt the restaurant to ensure it conforms to all city, county and state regulations.

Since El Metate features a different style of decorating than Seventeen Ninety, the old booths were removed from the space. Gonzales said the plan was to install new, lower booths.

“They [the state] wanted us to do a sprinkler system in the whole restaurant, and we didn’t have any more time,” he said in explanation of the seating change.

Restaurant occupancy counts — which affect fire regulations such as sprinkler system requirements — are greater with booths, which are counted as three people; than tables, which are counted as one person, he explained. If the restaurant were to have installed the new booths and the then required sprinkler system, the opening date would have been delayed by two to three weeks, he said.

“The other booths were going to be removed no matter what,” he added.

The restaurant began serving customers at tables Feb. 14, offering beer but no liquor. Gonzales said a full bar should be available after the fourth weekend of February.

The lack of liquor is not hurting business so far, he noted, but the restaurant wants to offer all types of alcohol to make sure every customer is satisfied.

“We want it to be not just a place they go to eat, but a place to enjoy,” he said.

Within the next few weeks, Gonzales said the restaurant will hold a grand opening celebration during which all food will be 50 percent off.

“We look forward to serving everybody there on Signal,” he said.

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