By Jonathan Phelps
---- — IPSWICH — Stone Soup Cafe is closing, but a new Mexican restaurant is on the way.
A sign outside the High Street restaurant says its last day will be Sunday. Stone Soup owners Mark and Stefani Macklin declined to comment on why they’re closing the restaurant, which opened in 1994. It was located at the corner of Central and Market streets before moving into the former Marco Polo restaurant location in 2009.
The owners of The Farm Bar & Grille in Essex plan to transform the place into an upscale Mexican restaurant under a different name, according to Ryan Cox, co-owner. They have other locations in Dover and Manchester, N.H.
The name of the new restaurant has not been determined yet.
“We are going in a different direction. It won’t be The Farm,” Cox told selectmen this week. “We would like to bring traditional and new-wave Mexican food to Ipswich.”
The menu will include tacos, burritos, fajitas, tamales and enchiladas, with tortillas being made from scratch. Some of the twists will include leg of lamb tacos and ceviche — an appetizer of raw fish marinated in lime or lemon juice with olive oil and spices, Cox said.
The bar will include more than 100 different tequilas for specialty drinks, including margaritas.
Selectmen on Monday night unanimously approved the transfer of Stone Soup’s liquor license to The Farm ownership. The license will include a fenced-in patio out back.
Co-owner Noah Goldstein said the new restaurant will fulfill a need for Mexican food in the area. He said the opportunity to open at Stone Soup came “out of the blue” about eight months ago, through a broker.
“There is not a ton of Mexican restaurants around here. We grew up here and we’ve eaten Chinese or American,” Goldstein said. “But I could eat Mexican a couple times a week, and you either have to go down to Beverly or all the way up to Agave in Newburyport.”
Cox said there will be many cosmetic changes to the building to fit a Mexican theme. “There won’t be big changes in terms of build-out,” he said.
They are hoping to open by the end of October.
Staff writer Jonathan Phelps can be reached at 978-338-2527 or by email at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter at JPhelps_SN.