Business

2 months after Tio's closed on Hilton Head, here's what plans are in the works

A new Hilton Head Island restaurant, Mixx on Main, will soon open in the building that previously housed Tio's Latin American Kitchen.
A new Hilton Head Island restaurant, Mixx on Main, will soon open in the building that previously housed Tio's Latin American Kitchen.

In spite of losing a popular eatery two months ago, Hilton Head Island tourists and residents will have a new restaurant to dine at this summer.

Tio's Latin American Kitchen is set to be replaced by Mixx on Main, an employee-owned restaurant serving a blend of American and Latin American cuisine.

Mixx on Main is expected to open shortly after Memorial Day in the former Tio's at 87 Main St.

The new restaurant will initially be open for lunch and dinner Monday-Saturday. Menu items will include traditional Latin American dishes, steaks, pastas, sandwiches and salads, according to one of the restaurant's new co-owners, Patsy Delello.

Dellelo said the restaurant is fully staffed for its opening, but he is very aware of the workforce shortage on the island. In order to encourage employment, the restaurant is going to become an employee-owned restaurant.

After six months, all Mixx on Main employees will receive a percentage of the restaurant’s net profits based on how much they work, Delello said.

"We hope that it will encourage future employees to have an interest in working for us," Delello said. "They (the staff) are the front lines of any business in this industry ... Our profitability is obviously going to be affected by their hard work and efforts."

Chris Kingston, Delello's business partner, said the pair hopes the employee-owned approach will attract more serious staff who are dedicated and see their job as profession.

"In this industry, to keep good help they want to make a living wage. So we're trying to help with that," Delello said.

Delello and Kingston said the employee-owned restaurant concept is new to the area.

"There are restaurants that have some bonus structure set up for their principal and primary employees, like a head chef or general manager, but it hasn’t really trickled down to actual line-level employees— your line cooks, your servers, your bartenders. They're all going to be part of the profit-sharing as well," Delello said.

Delello and Kingston have worked in the food and beverage industry for more than 25 years. Delello was previously a member of the Cheap Seats restaurant group and oversaw kitchen operations. Kingston previously worked in restaurants in the Atlanta area.

At the beginning of April, Tio's Latin American Kitchen closed abruptly. Tio's opened in August 2017 and was known for its Cuban sandwiches, homemade tortillas, black beans, rice and tacos.

Majority owner Jeff Hurt said the restaurant closed after its chef and operator, Lynden Zuniga, and key staff members resigned.

Hurt and Zuniga's wife, Sally, were co-owners of the restaurant, but the two are no longer business partners.

In a message to The Island Packet, Sally said she and Zuniga are planning to reopen Tio’s Latin American Kitchen in a new location, but could not offer a timeline for the reopening.

"We want to give a huge thank you to our patrons for your patience as we embark on our next venture," Sally said in the message.

In the meantime, Zuniga is working as a chef at Skull Creek Dockside.

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