CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — When the Fajitaville bar and restaurant closed this spring, North Beach lost a large, popular landmark.
The colorful, beachfront building is back open this weekend as a new restaurant to the delight of locals and visitors alike.
“It’s a great addition for the residents out there," Nancy Ibarra from San Antonio said. "It’s going to be fun. It’s a fun place.”
"The atmosphere’s incredible," Corpus Christi resident Denice Garza said. "It’s the beach. People are on vacation. We have the beach right here. Fourth of July — they’re going to pop the fireworks off the water. It’s a front show to the best view ever."
All of those attributes are some of the reasons Smoke Barbecue and Skybar — with three locations in San Antonio — opened its newest restaurant in the former Fajitaville building Friday.
One of Smoke's owners, Chris Benitez, used to frequent Fajitaville on trips to Corpus Christi.
When he heard the building had become available, he jumped at the chance to open a restaurant there.
"One of our friends called us from Corpus and said, ‘Hey, they closed Fajitaville," he said. "Lights turned on for us, and we said, ‘Hey, let’s check it out.’ And we checked it out, and there was an opportunity. We got the wheels turning, and it happened quite quickly."
Benitez calls this weekend an introduction opening.
He hopes to have the restaurant fully operational on a daily basis by Labor Day.
Benitez's right hand man says the next three days are important for Smoke.
"It’s just showing the city of Corpus Christi what our brand’s all about — to bring in some live entertainment and excitement into the city,” Senior Director of Operations Joseph Tittle said.
The live entertainment will be provided by DJ's, and Smoke will also offer food, drinks, games, and giveaways — not to mention a good vantage point for the city's fireworks show Sunday night.
You can bet Garza and Ibarra will spend a lot of time there this weekend and beyond.
“We’re going to come back again," Ibarra said. "I love seeing a place like this open down here.”
“We’re going to rock it," said Garza, who's actually working at Smoke this weekend. "And I’m going to represent Corpus. I’m — we’re going to make it happen. I’m excited. I don’t even know what to say. I’m excited!”
For more information, check out Smoke BBQ+Skybar North Beach Facebook page