by Ian Froeb
What would Pi Pizzeria (multiple locations) owners Chris Sommers and Frank Uible do next after opening four sit-down restaurants as well as a takeout-only location, expanding to the nation's capital and operating (and then retiring) two successful food trucks?
If you said, "Open a taco joint," step up and claim your winnings.
As Evan Benn of the Post-Dispatch first reported Sunday night, Sommers and Uible plan to open Gringo, a taco joint, at 398 North Euclid Avenue in the Central West End, currently the home of Rothschild Antiques.
Gut Check caught up with Sommers and Pi corporate chef Steven Caravelli via email to learn more about Gringo.
Why a taco joint?
Sommers: We feel this side of the CWE lacks great mexican food and our neighbors have been asking for it. We've been tossing around this idea for a few years now. As a company, we have incredible talent and passion for Mexican food throughout our ranks, and this provides an opportunity for these people to move up in the organization.
Why that location?
Sommers: We were already in love with the corner, and were flirting with this space back when we were originally looking for a Pi location. While it's never been a restaurant, we believe it can be the coolest restaurant space in the city, with its massive windows, beautiful tin ceiling and wide sidewalks.
We will truly miss Rothschild Antiques on this corner. All of our restaurants, including DC, are decorated with many items from that store, and Pete [Rothschild] is a friend. I'm very excited about their next chapter, though. Pete plans an announcement about that very soon.
What will be your approach to Mexican cuisine in general and tacos specifically?
Caravelli: I believe great flavors and cooking techniques translate into any cuisine. Tacos are a great canvas to develop flavors, and we really want to have fun with food that we like to eat.
What else besides tacos?
Caravelli: Tableside guacamole, pozole, larger "Platos del Gringo", and house made desserts.
We understand you'll be cooking your meats sous-vide (vacuum-sealed and then placed in a water bath brought to a specific temperature)? This certainly sets you apart from the regular taco joint. Why?
Caravelli: Consistency and quality. Cooking this way with Mexican food really brings out the flavor of the marinade and retains the moisture of the meat.
Look for Gringo to open its doors in the spring of 2013. Sommers says users of Sqwid, his social-media platform to connect restaurant owners and their patrons, should keep an eye out for a special reward that will act as a raffle sign-up for Gringo's soft opening.