Berkshire Business: Down by the river, a new Great Barrington cafe

The Rio Cafe on Stockbridge Road in Great Barrington has opened for business. It will offer American and Mexican food.

GREAT BARRINGTON — Rio Cafe on Stockbridge Road is open for business.

And true to its name, a river nearly runs through it.

The new breakfast and lunch restaurant serves American food with a Mexican twist. It has a large, open backyard with picnic tables overlooking the Housatonic River for the warmer months. Rio is Spanish for river.

The business belongs to brothers Jes and Luis Chairez who also own Pancho's Mexican Restaurant in Pittsfield.

"The concept of the food here is a little bit of Mexican items, but it's more like a classic breakfast with a Mexican typically breakfast, also," Jes Chairez said.

Chairez said Rio Cafe wants to capture some of the spirit of the building's former restaurant, the Riverbend Cafe, a popular eatery known for organic and vegetarian food that closed in 2016.

The new restaurant at 401 Stockbridge Road is reminiscent of Riverbend, with its wooden walls and relaxed atmosphere. But the Chairez brothers have made the place their own. Mexican music plays softly. Booths have replaced mix-and-match tables and chairs and the front counter has been refurbished. The place buzzes with enthusiasm.

Menu items include omelettes, smoothies, energy bowls, sandwiches, and soups. On the more Mexican side of the menu are breakfast burritos, huevos divorciados — two fried eggs topped in red and green sauces served with refried beans and tortillas — ginger salmon, and quesadillas.

So far, business has been great, Chairez said.

"I see my first customer, he's come in — in less than two weeks — seven times. And the third one and the fourth customer — I see them coming back, too," Chairez said. "It's a good sign, and a good feeling, to see people coming back."

Kristin Palpini can be reached at, @kristinpalpini on Twitter, and (413) 629- 4621.