In what may be the Valley's quickest opening and closing of a new restaurant by a legendary tastemaker, Barrio Cafe owner and chef Silvana Salcido Esparza has decided to close the second of her two concepts, Silvana Bistro, and devote all her energy (and Silvana Bistro's space) to the first: Barrio Queen.
"Quick-draw Salcido, that would be my cowboy name," Esparza tells me. "[Silvana] Bistro was just getting her legs, but I was not feeling it. I felt as if the restaurant was too stuffy -- not like I had imagined -- so I killed it quickly."
She's not kidding. Opened for about three weeks, Silvana Bistro, named after Esparza's maternal grandmother and namesake, was a decidedly more upscale dining experience than the more casual Barrio Queen (which opened in December and sat next door to Silvana Bistro in the SouthBridge space in Old Town Scottsdale) and one that Esparza defined as "the Euro-Mexican cuisine known in southern Mexico."
Esparza tells me the Euro idea was fun but that she felt as if she was being pulled in a direction that wasn't her.
"When I said Euro, I meant ingredients and styles. But at the end of the day, I am just a street girl serving my food."
For the most part, Esparza says the menu at Barrio Queen will stay intact but will add dishes like black fig mole and membrillo duck breast to fill in a demand for more entrees.
The area she'll focus the most on, she says, is the service. Acknowledging issues with staff, management, and training, Esparza says she's started over -- and she'll need to. Given the additional space from Silvana Bistro, Barrio Queen almost instantly has gone from seating for 60 to seating for over 150.
Does Esparza feel a sense of embarrassment for closing one of her concepts so quickly?
"Egg on my face? Fuck, no. And if I do, it probably has some chorizo on it and I had it for breakfast this morning in my packed-ass restaurant. What's a girl to do?!"
The menus at Silvana Bistro already are gone, and the signage is on the way out, as well -- with the exception of the light box with Esparza's name on it. She's got plans for that.
"I'm gonna have fun with that panel," she tells me. "Hang it on a wall in my office as a reminder of keeping it low and slow."
A concept that didn't fit or a case of too much too fast? In any case, Esparza seems to be trusting her instincts, and her customers, in making her most recent move.
Esparza's note to her Facebook fans: