GLASTONBURY — The owner of a new restaurant in South Glastonbury promises authentic Mexican food and has hired a well-known chef to carry out the mission.
"There's nothing like Mexican-inspired cuisine. People are tired of traveling far to find that. We are making everything from scratch and in-house," said Bill Driggs, owner of Sayulita, on the corner of Main Street and Water Street.
Driggs hired Van Hurd to run the kitchen at Sayulita. Hurd was a contestant on the FOX television show "Hells Kitchen" and hails from Dallas.
The menu includes items like guacamole classico, salsa flight and cilantro pesto shirmp quesadilla; soups like pork pozole rojo and roasted corn and poblano clam chowda; lobster and black truffle tacos; red quinoa and harvest vegetable burritos and a wide variety of fajitas. Main meals include lobster enchiladas and chorizo stuffed pork tenderloin.
"It will be Mexican with a more California and Texas influence," Driggs said. "Fresh Mexican food is a booming, hot trend in the big cities."
The restaurant is named after Sayulita, Mexico, a fishing and surfing village about 25 miles north of Puerto Vallarta. Driggs said the name releases a laid back, relaxing feeling – and is unique.
Driggs is leasing a space in a restored colonial owned by developer Skip Kamis. The 1790 colonial was used in the 1980s as a bank and, most recently, as a hair salon and medical offices. But the house had been vacant for years and had become somewhat of an eyesore at the gateway to the village, with its peeling paint and abandoned drive-through teller windows.
"It was really a great opportunity to restore an old building and fill a void in this area," Driggs said. "It's nice to see this building coming back and completely restored. We want to bring people back to South Glastonbury. It's such a great community around here."
The interior of the restaurant is made up of reclaimed wood and tin from the roofs of old barns. The bar is made from wood from a century-old oak tree. Driggs has hired about 25 full-and-part-time employees for the restaurant.
"We didn't want ceramic tile and sombreros," Driggs said of the décor. "We wanted something comfy and a bit upscale. We are really looking to let the food do the talking."
Driggs and his brother Adam know food. They operate 2 Hopewell just north of Sayulita and Birch Hill Tavern in the eastern part of town.
The restaurant will open this week and be open for dinner from 4 to 10 p.m. Monday through Friday and 12:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. on weekends. There are 70-seats in the restaurant, which also will have a 12-seat bar and a 12-seat patio.