Oak and Embers to Open Second BBQ Joint in Former Marcelita's Space in Hudson

Last year we learned that Marcelita's Mexican restaurant in Hudson was closing its doors after nearly 40 years in business. Now we know what will replace it. Hopefully by the holidays, Oak & Embers Tavern will be filling the building and the surrounding neighborhood with the sweet and smoky scents of barbecue.

In 1978, Marcela Arregui de McNeill, an immigrant from Mexico City, opened a one-room Mexican restaurant in what was then the middle of nowhere. As her operation grew more and more successful, she added more and more dining space onto the structure. In 2008 she sold the business to a longtime customer, but the transition was not a fruitful one.

Marc and Gretchen Garofoli, who opened the original Oak and Embers Tavern in Chesterland two years ago, purchased the property (7774 Darrow Rd.) and immediately began work on it.

“We ripped down half of the building and gutted the other half,” Marc explains. “It was chopped up into seven different rooms.”

Diners will immediately notice the transformation, which included raising the room and expanding the footprint to create an open and airy 8,500-square-foot interior that can seat 350 guests. There will be a new bourbon-heavy bar with garage doors that open onto a patio with fireplace.

Garofolo just took delivery of his new baby, a $40,000 Southern Pride smoker capable of handling 3,000 pounds of meat at a time. From that rig will come the same delicious lineup of smoked meats like baby back ribs, beef brisket, pork shoulder, sausages and chicken wings. Management says that the menu will be almost identical to the original spot save for the addition of more kid-friendly meals and sides.

There will be no changes at the Chesterland outpost (8003 Mayfield Rd., 440-729-4030).

“We have been welcomed with open arms,” Marc says about his new Hudson and Twinsburg neighbors. “It’s such a nice community. We’re already getting requests for parties.”