Decorated with fairy lights, large hanging greenery and an outdoor seating area, locals know Sublime Tacos for being one of the six businesses at 4th Ave Food Park.
Megan Lang, a 39-year-old East Gainesville resident, used to visit Sublime Tacos often when she lived in West Gainesville in 2021 because of its unique atmosphere.
On May 9, Sublime Tacos announced its plans to close its 4th Ave Food Park location and move to a drive-thru-only location at 1818 NE Waldo Road in East Gainesville.
The announcement gives hope to residents like Lang who are excited to see more food options moving to their side of town.
Lang faces a lack of options when it comes to eating out and grocery shopping, she said.
She found only about 10 to 12 options for eating out east of Main Street, compared to the more than 10 restaurants located south of 13th Street alone, she said.
“A food desert is the term for it,” Lang said. “The only grocery store we have is the Walmart.”
A food desert is an area where there’s an abundance of low-income residents and low-access to grocery stores or supermarkets. A report from the City of Gainesville in 2021 focused on food access determined 11 communities in Gainesville are food deserts.
“I live and work on the east side of town, and I'm very excited at the possibility of not having to go across town to get tacos,” Lang said.
The move is based on a decision from the owner Sen Khiev, 47, to better balance his time running a business and being with his family.
His sister Sydney Meth first brought Khiev on board to help run Cilantro Tacos when it was a food truck in downtown Gainesville.
Shortly after Cilantro Tacos opened a brick-and-mortar location at the food park, Khiev decided to turn it into his own business, Sublime Tacos.
The new drive-thru property was acquired about a year ago. Since then, they’ve been working on renovations and improvements to the location, which Khiev believes will help the business run more efficiently.
“Being the anchor tenant [at 4th Ave] and having that large space, it just requires a lot of work and a lot of dedication of time,” Khiev said. “I just wouldn't have had the energy or the time to stay open as long as we’d like [and] as many days.”
Khiev is excited to begin the transition, though he knows it won’t be without its challenges, one of which will be updating their menu.
“I think that's gonna be the biggest challenge — really redesigning our menu to something that makes more sense for drive-thru business versus a counter service business,” Khiev said.
Though many East Gainesville residents are enthusiastic about the new taco place coming to their side of town, West Gainesville is sad to see Sublime Tacos go.
West Gainesville resident Marissa McCallin, 36, has been a customer of Sublime Tacos through its transition from Cilantro Tacos.
For McCallin, part of the experience of Sublime Tacos was having it at 4th Ave Food Park, where its multiple restaurant options, unique decorations, seating areas, live music and events elevated the food.
The move deters McCallin from visiting because it is out of the way, she said.
“I think they have some of the best tacos in town so I normally do [go there],” McCallin said. “So it was a little bittersweet because I really liked that location, but I do wish them the best.”
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Gracey Davis is a UF journalism junior and Avenue staff writer. Gracey is a self-described girl boss, secretary for FMSA and a passionate Philly sports fan. If you're looking for her, try the Marston basement, where she often pretends she's a STEM major.