The team behind Jose & Sons—the popular Southern-and-South American fusion restaurant in the Raleigh Depot—has taken over the lease for the longtime Glenwood South coffee shop Café Helios, which closed on Wednesday. The trio of Charlie Ibarra, Hector Ibarra, and Oscar Diaz will open a restaurant and bar there in March 2017.
“We’ve had a second concept in mind for about two years,” Charlie Ibarra said Wednesday, hours before Helios closed for the final time. He’s not quite ready to discuss the concept or the new name, but he will say it will not be a Mexican restaurant. “We’ve been on the journey for a year-and-half now.”
The trio looked at several spaces across the city, including the new Edison Lofts on Davie Street. For the last six months, though, they focused on Glenwood Avenue. Helios originally opened at 413 Glenwood Avenue in 2002, but owner Gray Medlin closed it unexpectedly at the end of 2014. He sold the building for a record-setting price in 2015 to a group led by Shervin Tahssili, who helped lead the relaunch of Helios near the start of 2016. But it struggled from the start with an unclear concept and lackluster execution.
“People became aware we were looking on Glenwood, and we were made aware that the space was a possibility three months ago,” says Ibarra. “We reached an agreement, and they will remain as the landlord.”
Other than acting as the landlord, though, the group behind Helios will not be involved in the new Jose & Sons venture.
For the second edition of Helios, one common criticism held that the space seemed too much like an attempt to re-create the old one, from the mix of coffee, booze, and food to the layout. Ibarra says he is aware of that perception and plans to make that a priority of the buildout for this project. In 2014, after all, his team helped rebrand Jibarra as Jose & Sons, so they are already familiar with the process.
“We know not to take that lightly,” says Ibarra. “We want people to embrace the concept without that old mindset or nostalgia.”