Fondren’s favorite authentic Mexican addiction is back.
Green Ghost Tacos has reopened in the former Lenny’s sandwich shop at 2820 North State Street, the corner of State Street and Fondren Place.
“It does become kind of an addiction when you are into traditional Mexican food,” said Ana Torres, Fondren general manager and sister of founder Cesar Torres. “There’s something about the flavors – the salsas and adding onion and cilantro – that makes a difference.”
It was 2015 when Cesar Torres returned from Chicago to his adopted hometown, Jackson, and brought the authentic Mexican food of his childhood to a small eatery on County Line Road. Not even a year later, in 2016, Cesar decided to open a second location.
Then in the fall of 2017, Green Ghost’s Fondren spot closed to make way for a hotel development.
“It was bittersweet,” Cesar said of having to shutter the restaurant, operating less than a year in the former Que Sera Sera. “Oh I get a day off tomorrow,” he jokingly remembers thinking at the time.
Ana tried to talk him out of reopening here. “Let’s just do a food truck, and stay with County Line,” she remembers thinking. “But he was adamant.”
“Because I fell in love with Fondren,” he explained.
“I had (another Fondren location) on the table that fell through,” Cesar said of plans to locate at The Precinct at the corner of State Street and Patton Avenue last year. “But things happen for a reason. This location came available and I think it’s good for us.”
With a long-term lease signed last December, the initial plan was to freshen up, get opened and renovate later. Then the sidewalk grant construction began.
“We were working here at least a month with no water because of a broken pipe out there,” Ana said, gesturing to a recently completed sidewalk replacement.
At this point, the family made the decision to go for a full renovation, “to give people a different experience – to showcase what Green Ghost is about.”
Enter New Orleans artist and carpenter, Leal, who constructed the bar, painted interior and exterior murals and other embellishments and completed several large portraits of Mexican stars of the past (like Frida Khalo) that hang on the restaurant’s walls.
“I told him I wanted 1950s playful, a bright and brilliant feel to go with the food,” Cesar said. “Since he started working with us, he fell in love with Mississippi and has moved his family to Jackson. Now he’s trying to build his clientele up to do for others what he did here.” (Leal’s wife, Marianna, will work as Green Ghost’s chef).
What else will change? A simplified menu with more lunch and dinner plates and more desserts.
While customers will still see Cesar, Ana will handle the day-to-day operations.
“I have been in the industry a long time – since 14 – serving, bartending, cooking and managing,” she said. “I’m passionate about people and food. You can expect me to give you my best at all times.”
Future plans call for breakfast hours but realist Ana says, “slow and steady.”
“Right now, we’ll open… and grow. I want 15 happy people more than 30 unhappy people. We’re blessed to have customers that know our name and follow us and will bring their friends. So we make a commitment to the food, to people – to ourselves – and we believe in what we do. It’s hard work, but we do what we do with lots of love. Hopefully, people see that.”