Brandi Burrola and Daniel Wright hope that the changes they have made at the Cabo Grill will be a hit with both locals and tourists alike. [Travis Holtby / Moab Sun News]

The Cabo Grill’s new management is giving the restaurant a total revamp.

The grill’s new owners, Brandi Burrola and Chad Frandsen – high school sweethearts who moved to Moab six years ago – are changing almost everything but the name to give their own unique touch to the Cabo Grill.

It is an opportunity Burrola has been looking for a long time.

“I’ve always wanted to own a restaurant,” Burrola said. “We had a couple other opportunities that didn’t quite work out. With this one it was perfect timing and seemed right. I see this as a fun opportunity.”

The Cabo Grill was first opened on April 2 last year. Prior to the ‘killer fish tacos’, the building had housed Hogi Yogi for around 15 years, said Scott McFarland, the man who started the Cabo Grill.

“I race off-road trucks and spend a lot of time in Mexico. I absolutely love Mexican seafood,” McFarland said. “I just thought that it would be a fun little addition to Moab.”

But after starting the restaurant, McFarland’s other commitments started taking more and more of his time. He looked for someone to buy the business from him.

“A lot of racing opportunities have come up and I have opted to pursue those,” he said.

That worked out perfectly with Burrola and Frandsen. They had known McFarland for years. Once they told him that they were interested in buying the business, the sale moved along quickly.

“Everything was finalized by the beginning of March,” Burrola said.

Not wasting any time, Burrola and Frandsen rushed to get things ready.

On March 23 the Cabo Grill reopened.

Burrola and Frandsen had discussed changing the name but decided that, with the sign and website already set up, it made more sense to keep it.

Though the grill’s new owners decided to keep the name, nearly every other aspect of the restaurant was fair game.

The first thing was to rework the menu. For that Burrola enlisted the help of her uncle, Gil Burrola, a 40-plus year veteran of restaurant kitchens.

“It’s not a Mexican restaurant, it’s more of a Southwest dining room,” Burrola said.

Gil Burrola set about crafting a menu that put a new spin on the dishes that incorporated his years of experience working in kitchens from Salt Lake to New Orleans to Disneyland.

“The key is the freshness, of course,” Gil Burrola said. “All my credit goes to my teachers. I was trained by the best.”

Along with keeping the cuisine diverse, portion size is also a major focus. From mango fish tacos to hamburgers, they want to make sure that customers don’t leave hungry, she said.

One of Burrola’s other uncles, Robert Burrola, helped to set up the front end of the restaurant. Drawing on his roughly 30 years of experience, Robert Burrola helped to hire and train the all-new staff.

“Without (my uncles) we wouldn’t have been able to do this,” Burrola said. “They’ll be back periodically to make sure everything is going how they left it.”

That family help has also been especially important because both Burrola and Frandsen have full-time jobs.

“We are more owners and not operators,” Burrola said.

The couple hired Daniel Wright to run the day-to-day operations. Wright has been in Moab and the restaurant business for most of his life. His family ran the Poplar Place for 15 years. Poplar Place was a restaurant that was in the same building where Twisted Sistas now resides.

“I actually came to ask them about picking up some serving shifts and ended up with this (managing job),” Wright said. “To be honest I really wasn’t interested in managing it, but when you have been bitten by the restaurant bug there is something exciting about coming in and opening up a new place. It wasn’t that hard to talk me into it.”

And with Wright’s help the new owners of the Cabo Grill have started to make their vision into a reality.

The grill is now a full-service restaurant with a hostess, servers, a new bar and TVs. It also has a full liquor license and what Wright believes will be the best deal in town for “real beer;” Uinta Brewery’s Hop Notch, as well as Sierra Nevada beer and Pacifico will be available for three dollars a bottle.

Though Burrola said that they would love to eventually expand, right now the focus is on making their new restaurant the best it can be. When additions come the first thing the couple would like to expand on is the restaurant’s patio.

In the future they hope to put a grill and live music venue on it.

“Our patio is just beautiful. It has great views of the mountains. It’s a great place to spend a little bit of time,” Wright said.

All the factors the Cabo Grill’s new owners have worked on are to create a fun space to get a great meal, Burrola said.

“We want this to be the fun spot you go to relax and have great food and service,” she said. “I want people to come and feel like they are on vacation while they are on vacation.”