Barberitos opening downtown; Sonny’s BBQ tries again on Zebulon Road


Liz Fabian

Barberitos signs go up Wednesday at 652 New St. near Medical Center, Navicent Health. The Tex-Mex restaurant replaces the location that closed on Forsyth Road this summer.

The taste of Tex-Mex cuisine is moving to downtown and a Southern barbecue favorite is still trying to get a foothold in northwest Macon.

Monday, Macon-Bibb County planning and zoning commissioners approved signage for the new Barberitos at 652 New St. near Medical Center, Navicent Health.

Early next month, restaurant owners Martin and Philip Kohnen are opening their latest location in Middle Georgia which is just a short walk from the hospital. Earlier this summer, the brothers who opened their first Barberitos in Milledgeville in 2010, closed their restaurant at the Prado on Forsyth Road to shift the business downtown.

“We had been kind of planning this move for some time,” Martin Kohnen said. “We were planning on doing it in May but obviously with the global pandemic it became a little more difficult.”

When the north Macon location closed, the Kohnens were able to reassign employees to their other operations at 4921 Riverside Drive, or in Warner Robins or Millegeville, Martin Kohnen said.

They anticipate needing about a dozen more employees once the new restaurant opens across a parking lot from Roly Poly.

“We found that a large majority of the people coming in to see us on Forsyth Road and a lot of the catering jobs we were getting were coming from this area,” Martin Kohnen said. “Nurses and doctors had been talking to us for years about moving closer to the hospital.”

They had been scouting that location for a couple of years and the new signs went up last week.

“We’re excited,” he said.

Barberitos specializes in mission-style burritos.

Sonny’s BBQ’s latest design will get P&Z hearing

Planning and zoning commissioners will once again consider a new Sonny’s BBQ restaurant in front of the Lofts at Zebulon.

Brad Fink, who owns the Sonny’s in Warner Robins, has been trying to get approval for months to build a new eatery at 5811 Zebulon Road. Each time, commissioners balked at the idea of a drive-thru eatery.

Restrictions on that development prohibited fast food, drive-thru type businesses on the outparcels.

After multiple deferrals and redesigns, the applicant finally might be headed for approval next month.

Attorney George Greer successfully appealed Monday for a new hearing.

“Sonny’s corporate has caved on the idea of a menu board and speaker,” Greer told commissioners at the start of the online hearing.

In prior hearings, commissioners indicated a pick-up window likely would be approved for the site. In August, they rejected the traditional drive-thru even though the applicants argued Sonny’s was not a fast food restaurant and the majority of business would be from sit-down customers in a family atmosphere.

The next hearing is set for Oct. 26.

Other P&Z approvals

314 Second St. – new sign approved for Xia Aesthetics, which provides luxury facials, eyelash extensions, brow embroidery and tinting and body waxing.

869 Glen Hill Court – commissioners approved a variance to allow an accessory building between the house and right of way.

988 High St. – applicant purchased the lot after fire destroyed the neighbor’s house and commissioners approved the re-platting of the two parcels into one.

1200 Fifth St. – commissioners approved a variance to allow construction of a 2,000 square foot addition to the existing building.

1677 Avondale Mill Road – variance approved to subdivide into two lots to comply with a family will.

6140 Thomaston Road – conditional use approved to allow a convenience store with fuel sales and alcohol packaged to go in an existing store that has been closed for two years.

6483 Skipper Road – double-wide manufactured house approved for the property.

71 Spring St. – commissioners approved a certificate of appropriateness to allow demolition of a curved, brick wall at the old Greyhound bus terminal as the new owner is marketing the property for rent.

Contact Civic Reporting Senior Fellow Liz Fabian at 478-301-2976 or [email protected]