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Bar Rita Mexican restaurant in Fort Lauderdale now has an opening date

Update: On Thursday, the owners announced that Bar Rita will open to the public at 4 p.m. Oct. 29.

After four years of slow construction progress on Andrews Avenue, Bar Rita, a two-story Mexican restaurant and rooftop margarita bar from the founders of Tap 42, will finally open.

The 5,500-square-foot restaurant, a black-painted building attached to the north side of Tap 42 Fort Lauderdale, will open “the last week of October,” Tap 42 partner and Andy Yeager says. The restaurant passed its final building inspections on Monday, Oct. 8. Yeager’s TapCo Restaurant Group bought 1.25 acres of land to the north and west of Tap 42 in 2014 to build Bar Rita.

But the project languished for years as TapCo focused instead on bulking up its Tap 42 chain of gastropubs, adding locations in Boca Raton (opened 2016), Coral Gables (2016), Midtown Miami (2017) and Aventura (April), he says.

“To be honest, Bar Rita just sort of naturally got pushed to the back burner,” Yeager says. “We needed to have all our ducks in a row with Tap 42’s expansion, because it’s really tough to launch a new brand completely from scratch.”

Bar Rita, which aims to hire 80 people, comes from Yeager and his TapCo partners Damon DeWeerdt and chef Andrew Balick (in charge of the menu), along with Tap 42 founders Sean and Blaise McMackin.

Bar Rita’s menu will feature nine varieties of tacos, a guacamole bar, six types of fajitas (such as chili-lime filet mignon and chimichurri lamb shank) and "Bodega Bowls," protein bowls combining Mexican rice, black beans, guacamole and charred corn.

“It’s like modern Mexican blended with Tex-Mex,” Yeager says. “It will definitely be a lot healthier than traditional Mexican dishes.”

Paige Nast, TapCo’s beverage director, will pour the margaritas, which will include Coco-Loco (El Tesoro Reposado, coconut and lychee, pineapple, amaretto and lime) and Mango Mezcalita (Sombra mescal, Casamigos Blanco, lime and agave).

Part of Yeager’s land purchase in 2014 is a 70-space parking lot west of Bar Rita. The ground-floor restaurant features wood ceiling beams and Moroccan lamp fixtures suspended under recessed purple lighting. Black leather chairs fill the dining room, which is decorated with an oversize five-peso-note artwork on the wall.

Bar Rita is expected to open the last week of October at 1401 S. Andrews Ave., in Fort Lauderdale. Go to BarRitaFTL.com.

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