Silvana Salcido Esparza, owner and chef of Barrio Cafe, the Phoenix restaurant featuring modern versions of traditional Mexican cuisine, made the announcement today that Barrio Tequileria, her concept for the city of Gilbert, would not be happening. The news comes after six months of lease negotiations.
"There's a Spanish saying," Esparza told me, "A huevo, ni los zapatos! Or, you can't force a shoe to fit. I tried everything I could to make it happen."
Esparza said designs for the new Gilbert location included a backyard play area for the kids, a community table with a lazy susan, and artwork on the ceiling. Esparza also had plans to bring a revolving line-up of artists and cultural events to the city of Gilbert by hosting them at her restaurant.
So what happened?
According to Esparza, negotiations with the landlord over the price of chairs, moving the location of a dumpster, and architectural ideas for the restaurant that didn't work with her concept were frustrating, and ultimately the reason she decided to pull up stakes.
"I knew when he said he didn't like the name of my restaurant because it sounded like a bar we weren't on the same page," Esparza explained.
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While Esparza said she'll miss being neighbors alongside Postino, the wine bar that will open in the same building, she's a believer that, given all the time and issues, her Gilbert restaurant was just not meant to be -- at least not now.
By contrast, Silvana and Barrio Queen, Esparza's two new restaurant concepts set to open in Scottsdale in the fall, are all-systems go.
"The landlord experience in Scottsdale was completely different," Esparza told me. "Any concerns I had, they put on the fast track. I felt like they wanted me there."