Q&A: Alfredo Sandoval talks new restaurant ventures

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This is part of NRN's special coverage of the 2012 Food & Wine Classic held in Aspen, Colo., June 15-17. Follow all of our coverage at NRN's 'Aspen Food & Wine Classic' section.

Alfredo Sandoval is managing partner of Mercadito Hospitality Group, which operates two Mercadito restaurants that serve Mexican street food in New York City, one in Miami and one in Chicago. Earlier this year the group also opened Tavernita and the adjacent Barcito, which serve Spanish tapas developed by chef Ryan Poli.

Sandoval has other plans in the works, too, and he took a break from the activities at the Food & Wine Classic to discuss them with Nation’s Restaurant News.

Apart from Mercadito, Tavernita and Barcito in Chicago, you also have a temporary restaurant at the Talbot hotel. Can you tell me about that?

The Talbot had a restaurant that wasn’t working and they asked us if we were interested in taking the space. The Talbot’s a 4-star hotel that does food & beverage 24/7, so we kept the bar/lounge and the 120-seat patio as a pop-up while the rest of the space is under construction.

What kind of restaurant do you have planned?

It’s going to be an American brasserie influenced by France and Latin America. I haven’t quite defined the name. It’s going to be in the ‘ito’ category, like Mercadito and Tavernita.

Why are you bringing in French influence to this restaurant? That’s a departure from your usual approaches

The more I live in Chicago, the more I see the need for all these types of restaurants that don’t exist there. I’m a huge fan of Pastis in New York [a French brasserie run by restaurateur Keith McNally], and when the opportunity presented itself we thought it would be natural to do some sort of brasserie. But instead of just being French we decided to make it an American brasserie with French and Latin influences.

What else are you working on?

We’re working on a space in the meatpacking district [in New York City] at Little West 12th and Washington. That will be another Mercadito.

Why did you decide to come to Aspen?

You get to see anyone that’s anyone in the world of restaurants, food and beverage and media. It’s a great four or five days to be out there socializing with people at the top of their game.

A version of this article appears at NRN.com sister site Restaurant-Hospitality.com.

Contact Bret Thorn at bret.thorn@penton.com.
Follow him on Twitter: @foodwriterdiary