PORTAGE PARK — The owner of a beloved Northwest Side Mexican restaurant is opening a third location in Portage Park, branching out beyond serving food to hosting events, concerts and fundraisers.
Tatas Kitchen and Social, 5700 W. Irving Park Road, opened at the beginning of the year and was born out of a desire to grow Tatas Tacos to better serve the community beyond food, owner Marci Romero Berner said. Tatas also has locations in Six Corners and Lakeview.
Romero Berner said she wants “to collaborate with the community with events and local businesses” at the restaurant and social space. She’s hosting shows featuring local performers, carrying products from other neighborhood retailers and is planning more programs to invite community members into the restaurant.
Tatas Kitchen and Social will launch a monthly music series Saturday with Chicago-area musicians. It has a downstairs stage next to the dining area, a private party room upstairs and an outdoor rooftop and bar.
To kick off Women’s History Month, local folk group Rainy Day Women will play 8 p.m. Saturday. The concert is free, but reservations are encouraged. Best friends Naomi Ashley, Jenny Bienemann and Jodi Walker make up the group, which draws on the American folk, blues and country traditions.
Audience members can expect original songs and covers at the upcoming show for a nice blend of indie and folk styles, Ashley said.
Tatas will stream the show online for people who still want to enjoy the music but don’t feel comfortable attending in person. Folks can order delivery or pickup from the restaurant, and they will get a QR code to the Vimeo link to watch the show, Romero Berner said.
Since January, Tatas has held comedy nights with local comics every third Thursday. The next show, which will also be streamed online, will be hosted by Patti Vasquez at 8 p.m. March 17. It will feature Adam Burke, Joey Villagomez and Audrey Jonas.
Romero Berner also wants to hold fundraisers for local schools on Tuesdays, spiritual events and craft workshops to better engage with her neighbors. And when the weather warms up, Romero Berner plans to partner with local gyms, dance and yoga studios to offer fitness classes on the restaurant’s rooftop.
“We love everybody, so we want everybody to come together,” she said.
Romero Berner’s also working with nearby businesses Perkolator coffee shop and Portage Park Tea to sell their products.
Once undocumented, Romero Berner’s strives to give back and help young Dreamers follow their ambitions by exposing them to career options via workshops and events, learn about the legal system and host fundraisers for immigration causes, she said.
Romero Berner also wants to raise money for cancer research and to offer breast cancer testing to young women. Her business partner is a breast cancer survivor and inspired the name of the business, which means “boobs” in Spanish.
The taqueria secured the space of the old Veranda Rooftop restaurant, which closed last year. The timing for the expansion was ideal since Tatas’ original location at 4929 W. Irving Park Road closed in December for remodeling, Romero Berner said. The second Tatas is at 2826 N. Lincoln Ave.
Romero Berner said she hopes the original Portage Park location will reopen within the month. In the meantime, she is focused on getting back to engaging with neighbors at the newest spot through in-person art events, she said.
Despite the financial struggles brought on by the pandemic, Tatas isn’t slowing down, Romero Berner said. She’s looking at opening another location in the South Loop, she said.
“We are fortunate we are still standing,” Romero Berner said. “We have to get back to living our lives and enjoying our lives. Not everyone will feel comfortable, but we all got to get the business of enjoying life and eating tacos.”
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