It has been less than a year since Babalu Tacos & Tapas opened its doors in Jackson’s historic Fondren Arts District.
Now four restaurant industry veterans are teaming up in a bid to take the brand into markets beyond the Magnolia State.
Babalu founders Bill Latham and Al Roberts, the Jackson duo behind the equally successful Char and Amerigo restaurants, recently announced the formation of Babalu Development, LLC, a partnership that also includes Mike Stack and Ned Lidvall, former executives with McAlister’s Deli and Friendly’s Ice Cream Corporation.
Named in honor of a song popularized by Cuban bandleader and “I Love Lucy” star Desi Arnaz, Babalu opened last October. The restaurant is noted for its Latin American menu and atmosphere that includes smaller “tapas” dishes, tableside guacamole and “Baba-rita” cocktails.
“We look at the last 12 months it’s been open and we’ve been written up in many magazines including Southern Living,” Roberts told the Mississippi Business Journal last week. “We’ve broken the barrier of being stigmatized as (a Mexican restaurant) when we’re not.”
Roberts said the tapas small servings concept is trending nationally and this will help Babalu as it approaches larger markets from Nashville to Atlanta.