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Posted on Sun. Sep. 16, 2012 - 12:01 am EDT

Brazilian flavor coming to town

Tucanos to open restaurant in spring

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Brace for some Brazilian brouhaha.

Tucanos Brazilian Grill will debut at Jefferson Pointe next spring. Fort Wayne will be the eighth location for the Lakewood, Colo., chain, which has restaurants in New Mexico, Colorado, Idaho and Utah.

“We’re very excited about coming to Fort Wayne,” co-founder Joe Heeb said. “The city has the demographics we look for in a community. We have an established relationship with the owner of the mall there. They brought it to our attention, and after taking a look at it, thought it would be a great fit.”

Tucanos’ cuisine centers on the Brazilian tradition of grilling or Churrasco (pronounced shoe-HAS-ko).

The dining experience features 11 to 16 types of seasoned beef, pork, turkey, chicken and sausage sizzling on skewers. The meat is carved up at patrons’ tables. Side dishes and a “salad festival” bar is the only time diners have to serve themselves.

The eatery has a “one-price” format, which means diners can eat as much as they wish.

“We find people like that,” Heeb said.

Once inside the restaurant, a “Tucanos Cue” is placed on patrons’ tables to direct servers. The green side of the cue tells servers to keep the food coming. Flip the cue over to the red side and that means diners want to pause or have finished their meals.

Prices range from $13.95 to $20.95, while children 6 and younger eat free with a paying adult. The price range for children ages 7 to 12 is $5.95 to $7.95.

The menu includes Picanha (pronounced Pea-CON-ya), a top sirloin; Linguiça (pronounced Ling-GWEE-sah), Brazilian sausage; and Peru, turkey wrapped in bacon.

Tucanos recorded about $20 million in sales last year and that figure is projected to grow as the business plans on opening a restaurant in Virginia and in Missouri in coming months. Still, Heeb is cautious about growth.

“We are very methodical about it,” he said. Tucanos’ current locations are in Albuquerque, N.M.; Colorado Springs, Colo.; Boise, Idaho; and Provo and Salt Lake City, Utah.

Heeb isn’t offering franchise opportunities at this time, so all of the restaurants are company owned.

Jefferson Pointe management is looking forward to the restaurant that will result in the conversion of its food court.

Tucanos will occupy half the food court but have its own storefront and separate entrance when construction is done.

“It’s going to be a really nice addition,” said Mike Brooks, general manager of the shopping center. “People are going to like it.”

pwyche@jg.net


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