Burritos Back in Business: Agave Reopens


Madison Olsen

After closing last spring, Agave Burritory recently announced its reopening under new ownership.

Agave Burrito Bar and Tequilería is slated to reopen on Dec. 16 under new management and an updated name: Agave Burritory. The new owners are husband-and-wife team John Nutt and Khristal Kramer-Nutt, who also own pizzerias in Avon and Amherst. The restaurant closed in March after the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and has remained closed until now. 

The restaurant will start with a five-day operating schedule, open on Wednesdays and Thursdays from 3-9 p.m., Fridays and Saturdays from 11:30 a.m.-9 p.m., and 11:30 a.m.-8 p.m on Sundays. The menu at Agave Burritory will predominantly remain the same, but the restaurant will not offer dine-in service.

The Nutts’ priority is to provide burritos to Agave’s loyal customers, which means reducing the business’ bar options for the time being.

“We’re making sure the burritos get out there, that is the key component of all this — and we will have alcohol,” Kramer-Nutt said. “It’s [just] not going to be the big bar side that we used to have. We’re going to go with a three-tier approach. We’re going to have frozen margaritas, we’ll have shots, and we will have draft beer.” 

Founded in 2003, Agave quickly became a staple of the Oberlin dining scene. In 2017, original business owner Joe Waltzer, OC ’98, sold the restaurant to Nikki and Jon Stipp, who owned and operated Agave until last spring. The restaurant, known for its late hours and lively communal atmosphere, flourished among students and the greater Oberlin community pre-pandemic.  

“The vibes were always good,” College third-year Aesha Mokashi said. “It was a nice break from campus food. It was kind of our Chipotle, but a little bit more liked because it was a tiny, locally-owned Chipotle. Also, the fact that it was open until 2 [a.m.] was super important for a lot of people because everything [in town] shuts down so early.”

Nutt and Kramer-Nutt are excited to bring the business back, even if it means opening as a “ghost kitchen” with carry-out only.

“In the beginning, we’re going to roll out with a ghost kitchen, just get everything up and going so we can at least get the food out to people,” Kramer-Nutt said. “I know they’ve been waiting a very long time and they’ve been very patient, so … we’re here to focus on the food.”

The economic repercussions of COVID-19 have made Agave’s reopening and transition to new management a more challenging process than usual. According to Kramer-Nutt, finding enough employees to staff the restaurant has been difficult because many people are concerned about working in food service during a pandemic. 

“One of the biggest challenges right now is finding employees,” Kramer-Nutt said. “There’s just [fewer] people in the workforce right now.” 

The restaurant is also dealing with soaring prices for some key ingredients.

“The cost of lettuce is through the roof right now — and people don’t necessarily know that.” Kramer-Nutt said. “I mean, they go to the grocery store and they see it in their grocery bill, but they don’t extrapolate that out necessarily to a restaurant who’s buying in mass quantities.”

Despite the challenges that come with reopening during a pandemic, the Nutts are excited to bring Agave back to Oberlin. 

Agave’s previous owners spoke about how much they enjoyed running the restaurant. 

“We want to thank the community of Oberlin, the residents, the school, the students, and all of our customers for the amazing journey we had at Agave,” said Nikki. “We will never forget the people we met and the memories we made, and it is a bittersweet moment to be closing this chapter of our lives.”

For students returning to campus in February, the promised return of a hot and gooey Agave burrito is something special to look forward to.