After a career specializing in Mediterranean food, George Matta knows he's taking a risk by expanding into Tex-Mex fast food.
But he figures all that experience in the kitchen counts for something.
"This is our first fast food" restaurant, Matta said. "I don't know fast food, but I know food."
Besides, Matta is hedging his bet by bringing some dishes from Adrian's, his popular Mediterranean establishment on Rock Road, to two new restaurants in Newton and Augusta.
Those places will both be called Zorro's. "They will have Tex-Mex and more — and more means whatever I like," Matta said.
Both Zorro's are located in former Taco Ticos that have been closed for a couple months. LIke their predecessor, Zorro's will serve tacos, burritos and tostadas, homemade salsa, refried beans and more in a fast-food setting at fast-food prices. But Matta promises an upgrade in quality.
"We're using real meat, no fillers," he said. There will be some familiar faces behind the counters as well. He's hired back much of the staff from Taco Tico.
"My assistant manager has been there 24 years," Matta said of the Augusta restaurant.
Matta also plans to offer some of the dishes diners have come to love at Adrian's, which he's owned for nine years. That means Zorro's customers who are in the mood for something different can choose hummus, gyros, schwarma, fatuoush salad, bierocks and baklava. While Adrian's wine list won't be available, both Zorro's will serve cold beer.
The restaurants are getting an upgrade in ambiance, too. After settling on Zorro's as a name, Matta bought the rights to its use from the same people who licensed the hit movies starring Antonio Banderas. The deal allows Matta to use the Zorro logo as well as photos of the cast in the restaurants.
Renovations have been underway at both locations. The Augusta restaurant should be open by December 1, with the Newton restaurant coming online by mid month. Both seat about 55 people in addition to offering take-out and drive-through service.
Matta said he's heard that Augusta and Newton residents "are very excited about having fast and healthy food" available.
He's pumped, too, thinking of ways he can make eating there as festive an occasion as a trip to Adrian's.
"Maybe later we'll give them Zorro masks or something," he said.
Zorro's Tacos & More | 2406 N. Anderson, Newton | 205 W. 7th, Augusta