Roanoke restaurateur Rocky Byrd had hoped to have his Mexican-Caribbean restaurant, Nopales, open by the end of April.
But as happens with many restaurant openings, Byrd has run into a multitude of problems that have set back the opening a couple months.
“It’s been a little bit of a nightmare,” he said.
A big issue has been with the kitchen equipment that Surf ‘n Turf left behind when they closed in December. (A previous version of this blog post reported that Byrd was leasing the equipment from the landlord, but the equipment is not part of the lease.)
“Nearly every piece of equipment has had a problem,” Byrd said. He’s had to replace most of the equipment, which added a significant amount of wait time.
He also ran into problems with the building’s plumbing and electrical system.
But perhaps the most shocking setback was when he discovered what he estimates to be 100 pounds of grease and oil in ducts between the stove vent and chimney.
The ducts ran parallel to the floor (instead of straight up) for 17 feet, Byrd said, and two to three inches of “very volitile oil and grease” was trapped in them, Byrd said.
He believes it had been nine years since the vents and ducts were serviced. Contributing to the mess was the roof fan which wasn’t strong enough to pull everything out of the ducts.
“They guy who does that kind of work had never seen anything like it in his entire life,” Byrd said.
Byrd promised his 12-year-old daughter he’d be open by early July.
“I’d like to live up to that promise,” he said.
You can read more about the restaurant in this Retail Roundup column from February.