'... entrepreneurial explosion'


Zapata Cantina joins internationally-themed dining scene in historic spot

COVINGTON, Ky. - After months of buildup, on Wednesday it officially happened: Covington has a new restaurant named after a Mexican revolutionary and folk hero and co-owned by a veteran restaurateur who was in 2019 was named Ohio Restaurant Association’s Restaurateur of the year for southern Ohio. 
Zapata Cantina will feature “a modern interpretation of traditional dishes” in a building at 801 Madison Ave. known as the previous home (over the years) of the Florida Inn restaurant and Frisch’s.

Zapata Cantina co-owner Alex Rodriguez made it official with a cut of the scissors. From left is City Manager David Johnston, co-owner Gary Rodriguez (Alex’s father), Luz Rodriguez, (Alex), Eric Steiden of building owner Madison Ventures, and Mayor Joe Meyer.

As gawking drivers passed by on busy Madison Avenue, City officials helped its co-owners, father and son Gary and Alex Rodriguez, ceremonially cut the ribbon today.
In short remarks, Mayor Joe Meyer called the restaurant “more evidence of the entrepreneurial explosion” in Covington and noted how its owners epitomize how people with dreams who start small businesses in the city “work hard, are so creative, and bring engagement.”
“This is a welcome addition to the international-themed dining scene in Covington, which has become quite remarkable,” Meyer said. “Diversity ... adds to the quality of life here.”
Said Alex Rodriguez in a release: “Covington’s growth has exploded over the past few years, and we want to be part of the incredible revitalization of the city. The Eighth and Madison corner anchors the development that is spreading toward the south end of the Central Business District.”

The restaurant is named after a historic figure in Mexico, the revolutionary and folk hero Emiliano Zapata.

The building was renovated “from the ground up” by Madison Ventures with the help of the restaurant owners, and features colorful tiles, exposed brick and steel beams, and rustic wood accents.
All the food will be made on site, including Zapata’s own “two-toned tortillas.”
Rodriguez is known for his El Rancho Grande restaurants north of the river.

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