Oak Park Mall adding fried chicken, Mexican restaurant

Published 10:55 am Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Get ready for homemade tacos and fried chicken, Austin.

Austin resident Manny Taredes announced Monday he will be opening JNK Fried Chicken in Oak Park Mall. The restaurant — across from Ole Barn BBQ — will feature a wide menu, including broasted chicken, french fries, Mexican food such as tacos and enchiladas, and desserts such as ice cream, malts and smoothies. Taredes began remodeling the storefront Monday and hopes to open by the end of April.

“I wanted to bring something different, something we don’t have here in Austin,” he said.

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Taredes — who owned a similar restaurant in Minneapolis before moving to Austin 10 years ago — said everything on the menu is fresh, and his fried chicken recipe has been popular.

JNK — which will be open for lunch and dinner — will employ four to five staff, according to Taredes.

“It will be nice to have a variety of food at the mall again,” said Shan Kehret, Oak Park Mall’s marketing director.

Kehret said she is pleased with the number of new businesses opening in the mall, and feels it is moving in the right direction. Additions since Kehret started at the mall in October 2009 are Acclaim Studio of Dance, Two Bears Trading Post, Spirit Bear Academy, Weight Watchers, Dave Thompson auctions, Ole Barn BBQ, the Kitchen Warehouse and the Machine Shed, and it will soon add Napoli Chocolates and JNK Fried Chicken.

“Things are going to be happening,” Kehret said two weeks ago. “The mall is the place to start a small business.”

While the mall lost four shops in 2011 — Christopher & Banks, Ruby’s Place restaurant, the Dollar Store and Ruskell Hardware — it’s gone from 18 storefronts in 2009 to 21 counting Napoli Chocolates and JNK. Sears is also doubling in size, as it’s moving from inside the mall to an exterior storefront; the former home of Ruskell.