Restaurant landscape changing

Local residents will soon have some new dining options in Marietta. Two new restaurants are slated to move in over the next few months and a couple of old favorites are planning to merge.

Signs marking the eventual site of Qdoba Mexican Grill can be seen on the fence surrounding the former Movie Gallery parking lot at the intersection of Seventh, Pike and Greene streets in Marietta.

“The best way to describe it is as a fast, casual restaurant that serves Mexican food,” said Matt Herridge, a managing director and owner of Charton Management, Inc.

The company currently operates 23 Burger King restaurants throughout Ohio and West Virginia, including the Burger King on Pike Street in Marietta. But this will be its first venture into a new franchise and the Qdoba brand seemed like a good fit for the area, said Herridge.

“It really has something to offer this area that’s not available yet. There are very few restaurants in what I call the fast casual category,” he said.

Customers can expect to wait in a queue line and can craft their meal from an array of fresh ingredients, then enjoy a sit down dining atmosphere but without a server.

The restaurant will serve an array of Mexican dishes such as burritos, tacos, tortilla soup and a queso dip that the franchise is “really known for,” said Herridge.

Meals, including a drink, will typically cost somewhere between $6 to $9.

While some Qdoba restaurants do serve alcohol, the Marietta location will not, he added.

The projected opening date is Nov. 11 and the restaurant will likely employ between 20 and 25 full-time employees, said Herridge.

Meanwhile, longtime Marietta barbecue joint Blacksmith Barbecue will soon be relocating from the Comfort Inn on Pike Street to downtown Front Street and merging with Over the Moon Pub & Pizza.

Owner Kevin Black’s former Seventh Street location had very little dine-in space. However, he has experienced the opposite problem at the sprawling restaurant adjacent to the Comfort Inn.

“I’m not happy here because the quality of my food has suffered,” said Black.

Black called Over the Moon his “Goldilocks place” because it’s just the right size. Black will be paring down his menu to include his barbecue staples-pork, beef, wings, and more.

“I want to get back to what I really love doing…creating world class barbecue,” he said.

Black will also be looking for ways to use more local ingredients in the restaurant’s menu and has plans with Over the Moon owner Michael Mullen to convert a back room into a classy pub atmosphere.

“My intention is to be up and running in there by Sternwheel Festival,” he said.

A new name featuring both of the combined businesses is still in the works, he said.

Blacksmith Barbecue, under the name Blacksmith Tavern and Grill, will continue operating at the Comfort Inn until near the end of the month. At that point the restaurant will transition into a completely new dining option-Prime Steak and Seafood.

The new restaurant is working on creating a menu and finding a good supplier of fresh fish, said executive chef Jeff Els.

“It’ll be casual dining, very entree-oriented with lots of great cuts of steak and seafood. It’s something I think the area could use,” he said.

In addition to those new choices, several rumors have been circulated about restaurants opening in the First Colony Center near the Fairfield Inn and Suites on Pike Street.

“Quite a number of restaurants have looked at the facility, but nobody has brought an offer to purchase,” said Mike Gulliver, project manager for Larry Lang Excavating, Inc., which is developing the 20-acre area.