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AROUND TOWN: A Texas take on tacos in Grand Forks

Christopher Bjorke & John Hageman

Roy Olivarez is specific about the proper term for his new Grand Forks shop, Tio’s: It’s a taqueria.

In south Texas, where he is from, a taqueria is a no-frills food stand offering a variety of take-away tacos and other Mexican and Tex-Mex dishes, often homemade, he said. They are all over and a staple for on-the-go eating.

“Most of them are in gas stations,” he said.

Olivarez and his wife, Enedelia, opened their taqueria in the Grand Cities Mall about two weeks ago with a menu of tacos and enchiladas as well as Mexican dishes less often seen here, such as menudo, barbacoa and tamales.

The couple’s new shop is an offshoot of their Casa Del Taco restaurant in Grafton, N.D., where they live. They opened that business about two years ago in response to the popularity of their cooking among friends and neighbors. Olivarez said they chose the new place, in the location of the former Chacherz restaurant, as a way to move into Grand Forks and in response to seeing many of its residents visiting their Grafton store.

The family enterprise also runs a popular side business serving breakfast tacos at area businesses, a service he would like to offer in Grand Forks.

Oliverez said he planned to bring the home-cooking feel of their Grafton Taqueria to the new location.

“We’re going to run it like they do Texas,” he said.

Kittson owners plans new store

The vacant space in downtown Grand Forks that the women’s clothing store, Kittson, left behind could be home to a new retail store by the end of the year.

“We are doing the background work on another potential business,” said Nicole Johnson, co-owner Kittson, which moved to the city-owned Corporate Center on DeMers Avenue earlier this year. “Our goal is to have it up and running by the end of the year.”

Until then, the co-owners are exploring subleasing the old Kittson space at the corner of South Third Street and Kittson Avenue.

Johnson said the new potential business venture would involve retail, but said specific plans are still being discussed. She said she and her business partner, Tessa Hiney, would be involved in the new business, as well as other potential parties.

“We’re bringing in something new that downtown Grand Forks hasn’t seen before,” Johnson said. “Nothing is made for certain, but that is our tentative plans.”

As for their new Corporate Center digs, Johnson said they’ve enjoyed the extra space and visibility.

“It’s proven to be a very worthwhile move for us,” she said.

Francesca’s opens

The new Francesca’s store has an opening day today in Grand Forks’ Columbia Mall, according a company news release.

The chain boutique specializes in women’s clothing, shoes, jewelry and accessories, with about 350 stores in 45 states, according to its website.

Send business tips to Bjorke at and (701) 780-1117 or to Hageman at or (701) 780-1244.