By Bethany Bray
---- — SALEM — The Howling Wolf Taqueria on Lafayette Street is temporarily closed for renovations.
The popular eatery is expected to reopen tomorrow, possibly tonight if work is complete, owner Patrick Schultz said.
The project will expand the bar enough to add four more bar stools, reorganize the kitchen and give everything a fresh coat of paint, Schultz said.
The bar expansion will allow them to add eight new draft beers and allow two bartenders to work on busy nights instead of one, he said.
“It’s really not about adding seats at the bar, so much, but allowing more space for our bartenders to work,” he said. “... I hate to close the restaurant at all, (but) we felt the time was right, and we really needed to make these changes.”
Salem artist Craig Nelson is creating a California-themed mural in the dining room alcove. Works by Salem artist Denny Tentindo and Ipswich artist Brian Brogan will also decorate the restaurant.
Howling Wolf opened in August 2010.
This week’s face-lift is needed after 21/2 years of wear and tear, Schultz said.
“Our (customer) volume, luckily, is increasing,” he said. “... We’re up a huge percentage over last year at this time. This is to prepare for peak season.”
The restaurant also plans to introduce several new menu items.
Schultz said he timed the renovations to be ready for April 1, when the restaurant starts its seasonal all-alcohol license. They’ve been serving beer and wine only since mid-January.
“I’m looking for some wood to knock on because you never know what’s around the corner,” Schultz said. “We really appreciate the response we’ve been getting.”
Bethany Bray can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @SalemNewsBB.