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Vista Rio to become Lock and Dam Eatery in mid-April

Jennifer and Bernardo Melecio (File photo)

What do you get when you put Mexican and Italian together? According to Jennifer and Bernardo Melecio, the answer to that question is Lock and Dam Eatery. The owners of Vista Rio, located at 101 E. Second St. in downtown Hastings, will be redecorating, revamping their menu and putting up a new sign outside the building to open as Lock and Dam Eatery in mid-April.

"With the name Vista Rio, you don't think you're going to get both (Mexican and Italian)," Jennifer said.

When Jennifer and Bernardo purchased the building in 2014, they opened the restaurant as an Italian restaurant called Bella Vista. In 2016, they closed the restaurant for a few days to add some Mexican flare and reopened in September as Vista Rio, a Mexican restaurant.

Even after opening as a Mexican restaurant, Vista Rio would occasionally have some Italian on the menu.

"We would find out we'd have people who really love us as Mexican, then they'd have two or three friends who came in and wanted Italian, so we'd be selling a little bit of both," Jennifer said.

Then Vista Rio decided to serve Italian during the entire month of February to play off of the month of love. The Italian food continued into March and they decided it was time to have their restaurant name reflect the food served; they came up with Lock and Dam Eatery.

Bernardo said that the new menu will have a little something for everyone.

"We picked the best plates that sell and that people like from Mexican, from Italian and we added some American plates too," he said.

The idea is to cater to everyone, Jennifer said. The new menu will also bring back some of the pizzas from the Bella Vista days. A lot of the food is also already gluten free or there is an option to make some of the Italian gluten free, Jennifer said.

There will still be some familiarity for their regulars. There will still be a weekly special that runs throughout the week, but Lock and Dam Eatery will allow for a broader spectrum of food types. Chips and salsa will still be available for the customers who like the Mexican food. The house salsa will continue to be available along with the salsa of the day. Some of the names of the food items will reflect the new name and history of this city. One of the burgers will be called the Meeker Island Burger named after the Meeker Island Lock and Dam. In addition, one of the wraps will be called the Dam Wrap.

In preparation of the transition from Vista Rio to Lock and Dam Eatery, Jennifer and Bernardo said that they will be repainting the inside of the building and decorating to match the new theme. Eye Candy REfind in downtown Hastings will help with the decorations.

"It's going to look really nice," Jennifer said.

The community can get a sneak peek at what the menu will look like by visiting the new Lock and Dam Eatery website at www.lock-and-dam-eatery.squarespace.com.

Michelle Wirth

Michelle Wirth graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire in 2013 with a degree in journalism and web design. She worked as a web content editor for a trade association before coming to the Hastings Star Gazette in 2016.

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