The school of meditation and healing on Valencia Street is about to get a friendly new neighbor. Loló, a family-owned restaurant known for their unique spin on Mexican cuisine and vibrant decor, will be moving to 974 Valencia Street sometime between mid-December and early January.
Juan Carlos Ruelas, one of the owners of Loló, says one of the reasons for the move was the need for a larger kitchen and more seats. Their current space can currently accommodate a maximum of 49 people at a time. Lines sometimes wrap around the outside of their restaurant on 22nd Street near Bartlett, with people waiting every day during their peak hours between 6:30 p.m. and 8 p.m.
“On a busy night, we have to tell clients that we don’t have enough tables,” Ruelas said. “There’s an hour to an hour and a half wait and people leave. We lose a lot of customers.”
Ruelas says the larger kitchen in the new space will allow them to serve more people. They’ll also be open for lunch and dinner every day and have expanded their team to help meet the demand.
“The other reason is because, it’s Valencia. It has its own reputation.” He said the foot traffic and the variety of restaurants add to its appeal.
Though the restaurant is moving, their menu and their staple dishes — such as the “taco tropical” made of a jicama tortilla — are staying put.
The new location has a basement that they plan on using for private parties and if there’s no event, the space will double as a place to serve cocktails. There will also be a bar on the ground floor, but the underground structure won’t be part of the reopening because it is in its early stages and is still in the process of obtaining permits and meeting safety regulations.
The liquor license is also in the process of being transferred from 22nd Street. That delay could push the opening back until mid-January.
Just a few yards to the left of Loló at 3224 ½ 22nd Street, Los Shucos Latin Hot Dogs plans on moving in, according to the San Francisco Planning Department’s report.
This time Ruelas is only moving a few blocks, but he took a leap for Loló when he moved to the Mission from Guadalajara, Mexico more than six years ago.
A passionate and seasoned traveler, Ruelas holds a degree in fashion design from Spain, and traveled throughout Italy before moving to Guadalajara as a fashion consultant. There, he met co-owners Jorge Martínez and his wife and worked in their two restaurants as a waiter. A decade later, Ruelas is now a co-owner at Lolós, where he says he loves what he does.
The building at 974 Valencia, formerly occupied by Lot 7, still has paper over its windows while the finishing touches are underway, but that doesn’t stop passerby from pressing their noses against the glass, trying to get a peek at what’s inside. Its bright blue exterior is hard to miss and its orange interior walls cast a warm glow that is visible from the sidewalk.
Ruelas says loyal customers who they have gotten to know over the years, played a large role in their success.
“Over 60 percent of our clientele have been regulars. Younger people, older people, people with kids, it’s been a real mix,” he said. “Since the beginning we’ve had mostly regulars.”
And those regulars like to spread the word.
“People have been very responsive to us in the neighborhood and we are super grateful,” Ruelas said.