New Mexican restaurant opens on Dr. MLK Jr. Blvd. in New Bern

Traveling along Dr. MLK Jr. Boulevard in New Bern, it’s hard to miss the bright, colorful building that will soon be the city’s new restaurant.

Owner Jose Arturo Morales is excited about his latest business venture. He also owns Cerro Grande, located at 2503 Dr. MLK Jr Blvd.

His new restaurant, Don Pablos Tacos & Tequila is located at 3231 Dr. MLK Jr. Blvd., the former location of the Texas Steakhouse & Saloon which is permanently closed.

Morales began his restaurant career as a dishwasher in Cerro Grande in 1995. Over the years he rose through the ranks to eventually become the longtime Mexican restaurant owner and bought the business in 2006.

Morales said Don Pablos will be different from Cerro Grande in that it will offer more modern-style Mexican dishes.

“I want to make this restaurant chicer and more upscale,” Morales said. “It won’t be just another Mexican restaurant.”

Morales said that when visiting Atlanta, he often ate at Don Pablo’s, the restaurant chain, and liked what it offered.

According to, Don Pablo’s Grille Mexicano was founded in 1985 and filed for two balance sheets between 2008 and 2017. The chain closed its last restaurant in June 2019.

“I liked the restaurant so much that once it closed I hired a lawyer and an accountant to investigate,” Morales said. “After that I was able to buy the Don Pablos brand name. I own it now.”

Jose Alvarado, Morales’ son-in-law, who works closely with him for the company, said his stepfather’s restaurant has no connection with the old Don Pablo chain.

“He wanted something different, unique and not really seen in this area,” Alvarado said. “From decor to lighting, he didn’t compromise. He wanted to get it right the first time and bring something new that feels right at home.”

Morales said he chose everything for the new restaurant.

The restaurant is elegantly designed with beautiful bespoke artwork, greenery, innovative lighting, an elongated bar, and even an immaculate fireplace, to name just a few of its amenities that Morales said he mostly bought directly. from Mexico.

Pictured is Don Pablos Tacos & Tequila entrance on Dr. MLK Jr. Blvd.  in New Bern.

They will be offering modern Mexican fare and have hired a chef to create and perfect the scrumptious menu items that will be available. Having all ABC permits, they will serve colorful and distinct drinks. Some drinks will be available in specially designed decanters that allow customers to purchase and pour themselves.

With non-traditional Mexican fare included, they’ll also offer a wide variety of seafood dishes, steaks, mouth-watering desserts, and gluten-free and plant-based options plus much more.

“It was really difficult to get everything we need,” said Morales. “I had to wait months for necessary equipment and other necessities to open up,” attributing the understaffing for businesses and the shortage of supplies due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We are working hard to open as soon as possible,” he said. “I am ready to serve the people of New Bern who have patronized me for 17 years.”

Morales said he was very grateful to the community and that he was grateful for being able to provide jobs to help the New Bern economy, which has supported him wholeheartedly.

His company employs 36 people in Cerro Grande and plans to open Don Pablos with 30 to 40 employees, with more expected as the business grows.

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He said he still has a few things to finish before opening and hopes people will be patient for a bit more.

Currently, the company does not have a website but plans to have it up and running before opening. For more information, you can visit them on Facebook or by calling 252-514-6898.

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