A Los Cucos Mexican Cafe plans to open for business in the former Heitmiller Steakhouse location in Legends Crossing at Interstate 35 and Loop 340 in the coming months.

Staff photo — Rod Aydelotte

Houston-based Los Cucos Mexican Cafe has bought the Heitmiller Steakhouse building in Legends Crossing, the development at Interstate 35 and West Loop 340, and will open a restaurant there within two months, a spokesman for the chain said Tuesday.

Heitmiller owner Jay Hinojosa closed the popular steakhouse Monday after receiving an unsolicited offer on the building that he and his family “just could not refuse,” Hinojosa said.

The Heitmiller location at Lake Shore Drive and Interstate 35 in Lacy Lakeview will remain open, Hinojosa said.

Manuel Cabrera, president of the Los Cucos Mexican Cafe chain he founded with his brother, said he has been eyeing the Waco market about five years, and in recent months solicited the support of local real estate agent Jim Peevey in finding a suitable location.

“I was impressed with its population growth, and I thought it would be a good place for our quality food,” Cabrera said. “We’ve made a name for ourselves preparing our unique recipes from fresh ingredients. We make everything in-house every day, and we have the highest of standards.”

The chain, which has grown to 22 locations, the closest operating in College Station, has an extensive menu that includes traditional Tex-Mex favorites and seafood including Shrimp Poblano and Seafood al Vapor, which is an 8-ounce fish fillet and three jumbo shrimp wrapped in aluminum foil, with spices, tomatoes, peppers, mushrooms, cilantro and butter lemon sauce, according to its website.

Special plates include Mexican Taquitos, Brisket Flautas and Tacos Plazeros.

Grill specials include Parrillada San Luis, which features beef and chicken fajitas, jalapeno sausage, grilled shrimp, chicken quesadillas and molcajete sauce, served with rice, beans, pico de gallo, sour cream, cheese tortillas and a side of chihuaha cheese, according to the online menu.

Asked if the abundance of restaurants serving Tex-Mex and traditional Mexican food in Greater Waco gave him second thoughts about opening a restaurant locally, Cabrera said, “They have their food, and we have ours.”

Crews will make minor changes to the Heitmiller building, “which already is beautiful,” Cabrera said of the 8,500-square-foot steakhouse Hinojosa created from the shell of short-lived Quaker Steak & Lube, a garage-themed restaurant whose menu doted on wings and beer.

Hinojosa said business was great at his second Heitmiller location and that he was holding his own against nearby Saltgrass Steak House.

“But owning two restaurants can become quite a challenge, and my wife and I had considered a change,” he said. “The buyers came along at just the right time to get the answer they wanted to hear.”

Neither Hinojosa nor Cabrera would divulge the sales price of the building, though Hinojosa said he made more than he paid for it.

Cabrera said he already has started hiring to fill positions and likely will put 35 to 80 people on the payroll, depending on volume.

Peevey said Legends Crossing has become a prime site for development, considering its proximity to Baylor Scott & White Hillcrest Medical Center, where about 2,000 people are employed, and the presence of Central Texas Marketplace right across West Loop 340.

Real estate agents Jimmy Banks and Lisa Monroe have heavily marketed Legends Crossing, and announced earlier this year deals have been struck with P.F. Chang’s and Cajun-themed Walk-On’s Bistreaux & Bar for lots near the small lake that anchors the upscale development.

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