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New eatery opens in downtown Medford

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CravingCave owner Adrian Gonzalez-Hernadez said he spent nearly 10 months preparing his new Front Street location in downtown Medford. The restaurant at the former Howiee’s on Front location celebrates its grand opening Saturday. [Andy Atkinson / Mail Tribune]
CravingCave’s new downtown Medford location features 13 large-screen TVs and top-to-bottom renovations, including a unique plastic clover wall treatment. [Andy Atkinson / Mail Tribune]
CravingCave employees Santo Chavajoy and Manuel Perez work in the kitchen Friday afternoon for the downtown Medford restaurant’s grand opening Saturday. [Andy Atkinson / Mail Tribune]
Downtown Medford’s CravingCave will celebrate its grand opening Saturday at 16 N. Front St. [Andy Atkinson / Mail Tribune]

CravingCave owner Adrian Gonzalez-Hernandez hopes to draw a crowd to his new downtown Medford food establishment by casting a wide net.

The business, which is holding its grand opening Saturday, Dec. 3, offers something special for a broad assortment of customers, from sports fans to families with kids to tequila aficionados. The business is located in the space formerly occupied by Howiee’s, at 16 N. Front St.

“We’re nothing like Howiee’s,” Gonzalez-Hernandez is quick to say.

“We redid every single inch,” he added Friday, pointing to fresh gray paint and an unusual plastic clover wall treatment and an all-new patio.

The downtown Medford location is the company’s second. The first, located in the Tolman Creek Plaza in Ashland, opened in 2020. The new establishment is the product of nearly a year of preparations, he said.

Take one look at the glistening slate tile floors, onyx countertops, modern LED lights and “Good Vibes Only” neon sign, and it’s clear CravingCave has a very different vision from the dive bar with record albums on the ceiling that came before.

The nostalgic will, however, find a pool table.

Gonzalez-Hernandez sees CravingCave as a restaurant first, saying he’s proud of his menu’s wide variety. The menu offers wings, pizza, hamburgers and sandwiches, plus more eclectic Mexican fare, such as ceviche and street tacos.

There’s a kids menu, which Gonzalez-Hernandez hopes will draw families with children to the establishment he describes as a “Mexican-American Family Friendly” restaurant.

He’s mounted 13 new large-screen TVs to the historical building’s walls to appeal to sports fans, and he offers 15 beers on tap and another dozen varieties in bottles.

For the after-work crowd, there’s more than 100 different varieties of tequila at the bar.

“This place took almost a whole year just for the OLCC license,” Gonzalez-Hernandez said.

CravingCave picked up the lease in February this year from Randall Theatre’s ill-fated nonprofit Ghostlight Grille restaurant. Gonzalez-Hernandez expressed frustration at OLCC’s understaffing, shifting pandemic restrictions and “just excuse after excuse” as he paid the lease and refined his restaurant.

“I’m excited,” Gonzalez-Hernandez said of Saturday’s grand opening. “I’m ready to work.”

Gonzalez-Hernandez said he had his eye on downtown Medford when he was first scouting locations in late 2019 and early 2020, but he opted for the Ashland location at 2345 Ashland St.

He said his first location helped him refine his approach.

"We had a more clear vision based on our experience in Ashland,“ Gonzalez-Hernandez said.

Gonzalez said his long-term vision is to expand CravingCave to larger metro areas such as Portland.

“That’s our long-term goal: to be a franchise,” Gonzalez-Hernandez said.

CravingCave in Medford is open from 11 a.m. to 1 a.m. weekends and from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Sundays through Thursdays. For more information, call 541-690-1270 or see facebook.com/CravingCave520.

Reach web editor Nick Morgan at 541-776-4471 or nmorgan@rosebudmedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @MTwebeditor.