METRORail's red line extension to the near north side has brought improvements for area residents who ride the rails to jobs downtown and in the Texas Medical Center. It's even spurred business development, as with the Red Ox Bar & Grill, whose owners Lily Hernandez and Terry Flores, cited their location's proximity to the rail as one of the reasons they chose it for their restaurant.
Unfortunately, the path of development isn't linear, and changes that are good for one business can hurt another.
Just ask Taqueria La Macro owner Saul O'bregon. Known for its tacos de trompo, La Macro has received rave reviews during its almost three year existence, not just for its pork roasted on a vertical spit, but also for breakfast tacos and burgers topped with that same trompo meat. Despite that, the restaurant is set to close after service Saturday night with plans to move to a new location near BBVA Compass Stadium in EaDo
In all, O'bregon figures he'll lose $100,000 on what he spent to build out the restaurant by moving.
"Since the light rail opened . . . our revenue is non-existent with the volume we're getting," O'bregon tells CultureMap. "During construction, the workers came here, but now they've moved on the new line."
Other regulars have said they don't like to get too close to the rail for fear of getting into accidents. In total, the owner estimates that La Macro's business is off 60 percent since January.
Street construction that's closed the Main Street tunnel north of downtown for the next nine months to a year was the final nail in the coffin. The business won't generate enough revenue to cover its $3,500 per month rent while meeting its obligations in terms of labor, equipment and ingredients. In all, O'bregon figures he'll lose $100,000 on what he spent to build out the restaurant by moving, but at least his landlord is allowing him to take his kitchen equipment, tables, chairs and other non-fixed items.
The money he spent on installing a grease trap, walk-in freezer and other essentials is lost forever.
If everything goes according to plan, O'bregon will finalize a letter of intent on a new space today. He's targeting Oct. 15 to reopen La Macro.
Until then, trompo fans may have to resume driving to Karanchos in Channelview to get their fix. Sometimes, that's the way the light rail rolls.