Chef Silvana Salcido Esparza's Barrio Tequileria: "Not What We Signed Up For" Says Gilbert Landlord

Categories: News
Thumbnail image for barriogilbert.jpg
Blueprint for Barrio Gilbert.

​Today, Silvana Salcido Esparza, owner and chef of Barrio Cafe, announced that Barrio Tequileria, her concept for Gilbert, would not be happening due to ongoing disagreements with the landlord, one that included the name sounding too much like a bar.

The bar thing's just part of the name problem, the would-have-been landlord says.

"Partnership issues prohibited the name of Barrio Cafe from transferring to another location," Mike Bennan, principal at Oakmark Development, the company who worked with Esparza on the Gilbert location, told me this afternoon.

"The original letter of intent was with Barrio Cafe, then the name changed to Barrio Gilbert. We found out on Monday it was going to be called Barrio Tequileria."

Bennan says that as the deal changed, the risk profile increased -- and that the new name could imply more of a bar, alienating more family-oriented customers. But more than that, he says, his company was intending to contribute a substantial amount of money to the concept, and wanted to make sure it was well spent -- on something called Barrio Cafe.

"We thought we were getting Barrio Cafe," Bennan says. "Barrio Cantina [in Phoenix and not owned by Esparza] recently closed. Too many different Barrios might get confusing for people and water down the concept."

What did Esparza have to say about all this?

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Chef Silvana Salcido Esparza
"There's only one Barrio Cafe and that's how it's going to stay," Esparza says. "They knew that from the start." She adds, "Why is the name so important? My reputation should carry me in Gilbert."

Esparza denies that Barrio Cafe was on the original letter of intent and that the name of the restaurant was not the main issue but instead the straw that broke the camel's back.

What happens to the space next to Postino now? Bennan told me he has other interested parties he's been "holding at bay" while he's been working with Esparza.

"They're all big names," he tells me. "Ones people will recognize."

That could explain a lot. Stay tuned.

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12 comments
Russjman
Russjman

The people at Oakmark wanted a franchised location of Barrio it seems like (a guaranteed investment)   And like any self respecting chef, Esparza doesn't want a chain restaurant, but new type of restaurant. Something new and distinct, and not water down her Cafe(pun intended!)

What i don't understand is why people making comments on here are complaining about the prices at Barrio Cafe, which has very little to do with this article, or the reason why this deal went sour. I challenge anyone to find a better Mexican restaurant at any price here in Phoenix. The most difficult part of this challenge would be to find an other place where over-privileged white people wouldn't be scared to go to!

Central Scrutinizer
Central Scrutinizer

> Why is the name so important?

If that's your stance, chef, then change it back to what everyone was comfortable with.

Modern Man
Modern Man

Barrio Cafe has great food, no doubt. Sadly, the service and price points are nearly insane. Crappy service with high prices, that's not a value. I get that she isn't trying to have a America's Taco Shop, but at the same time, her prices have gotten out of control. Chef Silvana needs to take a hard look at her shop, and make some little changes that will get it back to its glory days.

Sam
Sam

sounds to me like this guy got scared of the chef's shoot from the hip style.  pussy!

STEVE
STEVE

Its a real shame she is not coming. Gilbert is a waste land for good restaurants as is the East Valley in General.  This would have been a good mix with the current restaurants in the area.  Its probably just the usual discriminatory treatment bars receive in the area. (I know it was going to be a restaurant). You would think the landlord having a LONG, LONG, LONG string of failure tenants might have figured that out. Maybe he can get another  DISGUSTING sports bar in there.

Stephanie G
Stephanie G

Her "reputation" is a militant lesbian that charges way too much for what she thinks if gourmet food.

Quizsicle
Quizsicle

Exactly. If you know that renaming your restaurant "Barrio Tequila Room" (en ingles) doesn't sit well with one of the parties capitalizing the venture, maybe it would be OK to go with the original name, which based on my reading of the (now dead) Facebook page was "Barrio Gilbert"?

Sam
Sam

That is right Stephanie G, she is.  I think that is what makes her cook better and able to charge more.  Maybe Gilbert is afraid of the big lessy-tell-it-like-it-is Mexican. 

Jeff
Jeff

Stay classy, Stephanie G.

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