Grand Avenue fans have something new to celebrate. After Bragg's Factor Diner announced that it will be shuttering its doors on October 4, Chef Silvana Esparza of Barrio Cafe and Barrio Urbano revealed that she will be setting up shop in the space once occupied by the vegan cafe.
We spoke to Esparza Thursday about what Valley diners can expect from her forthcoming project. It turns out there's not a lot she can share at this point — mostly because she hasn't figured it out herself.
"I can't even tell you the name yet," she says, "but it will be [similar to] Barrio Cafe." The menu is also a moving target. Enamored of the history and architecture of the building, located on Grand Avenue and McKinley Street, Esparza says she will wait to get inside the space and let it dictate "what it wants."
Before the unique space housed Bragg's Factory Diner, it was occupied by the now defunct Bragg's Pie Factory. "There's flour in those walls," says Esparza, and coming from a family legacy of bakers, it's clear that she wants to honor that particular history of the Bragg's location. She also plans to continue training the next generation of Mexican chefs, she says, sharing her experience and knowledge of elevated Mexican cuisine.
Esparza says the one item we won't see at the new Barrio Cafe is tacos. "I'm a little sick of tacos, to be honest," she says. "They've saturated the market. McDonald's is going to start selling them next!" Esparza is also planning on securing a liquor license for the restaurant.
As for moving into the Grand Avenue neighborhood, known for its decidedly un-gentrified galleries and cafes, Esparza says she's going to fit right in. She says she's especially appreciative of the work of Beatrice Moore, the woman most often credited with developing the artistic community on Grand Ave.
"You can say I'm going to the Beatrice Moore Academy of How to Get Shit Done," says Esparza. "I can promise that I'm going to give it my very best."