Chris Collins of Grassroots Kitchen and Tap: "Enjoy What You Do or Don't Do It at All"
A "lagniappe" is a small gift given to a customer by a merchant at the time of purchase, like a 13th doughnut given to someone who orders a dozen. The word comes from a Quechuan word that was adapted by the Lousiana French and is one of the many things Collins picked up from working in New Orleans for Hillstone Restaurant Group. The company owns a number of restaurant concepts, including Hillstone, Houston's, and Bandera.
"Wally's and Houston's molded me," says Collins.
At Grassroots, the chef says he aims to blend the friendly, neighborhood feel of Wally's with the efficiency and uncompromising attention to detail of Hillstone Group restaurants. And considering that he's still involved with both Wally's locations and just had a baby boy -- named Christopher ("Topher") in case you were wondering -- that's no easy feat.
Lauren Saria Collins at the original Grassroots location in Scottsdale.
As for that second location, Collins says he's getting ready to unveil a few changes. For starters, they'll be starting construction on a new patio this month and have plans to start differentiating the menu a little more from that of the original location. Look forward to dishes like swordfish and "Twisted Scallops," two dishes that Collins says might appeal to the more adventurous dining scene in Central Phoenix.
The changes and the patio won't be ready until May, Collins says, but the delay isn't something the new father sees as a bad thing -- the hotter months will mean things will slow down enough for him to spend more time at home.
"I can't wait for summer to come," Collins says.