t it's also quiet, it has trees, and you're just a half block off from the hustle of Broadway. You're downtown, but you don't feel like you're downtown here.”
The Iguana isn't new to everybody — Mason previously operated the restaurant along the Western Avenue entertainment corridor several years ago until nearby parking was eliminated by construction of a Panera Bread. The menu at the new restaurant includes specialty salsas and other favorites of the old location.
So far, Mason's gamble is paying off with the Iguana meeting its performance targets just two weeks after opening. Not only are lunches busy, but Mason and Parrott are surprised at the restaurant's strong performance at night.
"I thought dinner would be more of a challenge — not just to get people downtown, but also onto NW 9,” Parrott said. "But word of mouth has been great and we're getting a lot of great repeat business.”
Mason is hoping to continue his gamble with the three adjoining homes that all date back to the 1920s. "Mentally,” Mason says, he has the houses leased to a pastry shop, a sandwich shop, a purse and accessories store and an old-fashioned 3.2-beer joint similar to the Red Rooster along NW 36.
After spending $1.2 million turning the garage into the Iguana, tasks ahead with the homes include putting an I-beam under one home and abandoning the bad foundation altogether.
"My wife advised last November to tear them down,” Mason said. "But I want to save them. I don't know — she might have been right. But I'm assembling the costs now ... My wife is smiling, saying ‘I told you so.'”