A little less than two years after he purchased Juanita's, Johnny Weaver has sold the venerable Tex-Mex restaurant and venue to Jim O'Brien and Joe Cates. O'Brien, the brother of Pulaski County Clerk Pat O'Brien, brings more than 20 years of restaurant experience, including as the owner of Larry's Pizza franchises and McDonald's franchises. Cates, the former owner of Jo Jo's BBQ in Sherwood, works by day as an account executive at Clear Channel and handles the events at the Metroplex.
According to Juanita's general manager James Synder, who helped put the deal together, the new owners are committed to improving the operation. By redoing the floors, upgrading the plates and flatware and possibly improving the patio in the rear of the venue space. New menu items could be coming, but look for the menu to remain largely the same, Synder said.
After recently scaling back the nights it served dinner, Juanita's had, in the last few weeks, quietly re-instituted dinner hours Tuesday through Saturday. Whether dinner on Monday returns or lunch, currently Monday through Friday only, returns to Saturday remains undecided, Snyder said.
On the venue side, Snyder said the only anticipated change is the addition of DJs after shows.
"Whereas now, we're known for turning on the lights after the show and watching everybody go home or go next door to Midtown, we're looking to keep the party going a little longer," Snyder said.
He also said the new owners were looking to hire a full time courtesy officer who patrolled the parking lots around the restaurant and bar throughout the night.
Cates and O'Brien officially take over on Monday.