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Marshall V. King
Marshall V. King writes about restaurants and local food issues. And a lot about what he eats.

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Hacienda restaurant group to open Italian location

The corporation that operates the popular Mexican food restaurants is branching out into an Italian concept in South Bend.

Posted on Jan. 31, 2014 at 9:29 a.m.

Thousands go to Hacienda Mexican Restaurants for fresh chips, salsa and margaritas.

Now the corporation that operates the restaurants is planning an Italian restaurant with fresh bread, salads and wine.

WNDU-TV, reporting partners with The Elkhart Truth, reported Thursday, Jan. 30, that Hacienda will open BarBici Italian Street Food as early as June in Eddy Street Commons.

Jeff Leslie, executive vice president and chief marketing officer, confirmed that with the Truth. "It's a totally different direction," he said.

He said company officials wanted to add restaurants in markets where they already have Hacienda restaurants. They considered various concepts, including high-end tacos, but settled on Italian with a fresh approach.

The goal will be to have a fast casual restaurant with high-end ingredients and a reasonable price point. Real pancetta and fresh mozzarella will be among the ingredients and bread will be baked fresh daily.

It'll be different from other Italian restaurants in the area by focusing on fresh and healthy foods, he said. "You can love Polito's," he said. "Here's something much fresher, quite a bit different."

He said the BarBici (pronounced "bar-beach-ee") will promote an active lifestyle and healthy eating. "It's really new ground for us to say maybe restaurants ought to have responsibility - that's a pretty strong word - toward the health of your guests," he said.

Several years ago, Hacienda offered a fresh burrito bowl by deconstructing a wet burrito and making it healthier. Customers responded well and that taught Hacienda's operators a lot, Leslie said. "Fresh equals health in a lot of cases. This is something people are looking for right now."

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