FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) — Put to the court of public opinion, Mexican restaurateur Martin Quintana believes people overwhelmingly want to see The Famous Taco open on West Jefferson Boulevard.

The sign is up and the kitchen will be equipped as soon as he gets an OK from city planning authorities.

That didn’t happen last week.

Martin Quintana (left) at his restaurant, The Famous Taco, on North Clinton Street. At his side is Elizabeth Perez.

Instead, five out of the nine Fort Wayne Plan Commission members decided to teach Quintana a lesson, voting against Quintana’s proposed restaurant in the strip mall he transformed from a garage. Two others voted for the restaurant, not seeing the point of denying it; one abstained and another member was absent.

Quintana had gone into the meeting Nov. 14 feeling confident that his proposed sit-down restaurant, very similar to the one he operates on North Clinton Street, would be approved after he secured a compromise with the neighbors behind the new strip mall. He agreed on paper with the Covington Creek Condominium Association to limit hours of operation to 10:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. and keep the dining activity indoors without outdoor seating, without loud music or outdoor speakers and without alcohol.

The Famous Taco on West Jefferson Boulevard, but it won’t open until planning officials say OK.

Friday, Quintana sat down with WANE 15 at The Famous Taco on North Clinton. He explained that his original plans for the southwest property changed after he bought a residence and then added on a 9,000 square foot garage. Keeping it zoned for residential didn’t make sense, so he got it changed to commercial zoning, he said, because, well look at West Jefferson Boulevard. Find much that’s residential on your way to Lutheran Hospital?

Then his project at 6626 W. Jefferson Blvd turned into a 11,000 square foot strip mall, upscale looking and all brick, with four rentable storefronts. Much of it was done without planning’s approval.

While Quintana is a successful restaurant owner, he may need the advice of a good attorney. There’s none listed on his application, although he said during the interview he had one.

“I’ll make it work,” Quintana said, adding that he’ll do this thing step-by-step and be patient. “One thing we do all the time, we’re always focused on doing the right thing. Everybody makes mistakes.” He said he pays a load of taxes and employs lots of people, which he hopes will be taken into consideration during the next go-round with the city’s planners.

He pointed to Dos Margaritas, one of his successful restaurants occupying a building that had been vacant since 2002 until he opened the restaurant in 2011. He sold his restaurant, Las Lomas, on Fairfield Avenue, about six years ago.

The name, Las Lomas, pays homage to the village, La Loma, outside Mexico City where Quintana grew up. He came to the U.S. in 1988, he said, and first lived in Chicago.

Five years ago, he opened The Famous Taco in the 4100 block of North Clinton, just south of Dos Margaritas.

“People are always asking me and people are always wanting (to know) when we will be open, The Famous Taco, on West Jefferson. People are always asking us when is it going to be open, the second location,” Quintana said. “I hope the planning can change their mind and let us open soon. The people who are following us are more ready than us to open.”

Currently, he is not scheduled to appear before the Plan Commission.