Food, Wine & Spirits in St. Louis

Tuesday, December 20, 2011 / 8:25 PM

Roberto Trevino Abandons East Loop, La Cantina Restaurant Now Slated For Webster Groves

There's a new Mexican restaurant coming to Webster, and it's little more than a stone's throw away from its other Mexican restaurant. The RFT's Ian Froeb was the first to say, "What the what?" (Hold on, that may have been Tina Fey.)

Regardless, up until today, the local food scribes were under the impression that Roberto Trevino, owner of the habanero-hot Amigo's Cantina in Kirkwood, would be locating his second restaurant, La Cantina, in the East Loop (adjacent to Tavolo V, which is exactly the upteenth restaurant from Mike Del Pietro). 

Relish was the first to break news of La Cantina, and was told at the time that a lease had been executed. But Trevino told Relish this evening that no lease was ever signed and no firm agreement ever made. When asked about the change of heart, Trevino replied, "Actually, we kept getting further apart. There were a lot of issues, mainly because we were locating in a historic building. We were told we could not have any outside space, for example, and that was crucial to our concept and our business plan. But the kicker was when the lease hit 55 that point, we felt we just had to walk away." 

The site of the old Two Nice Guy's/Capone's at 35 N. Gore in Webster better fit his needs. It already had a full kitchen--a big plus--a neighborhood that's loyal to its restaurants, and some outside seating, although not the kind of major patio he was proposing in the East Loop.  

When asked if the concept would possibly pick the pocket of nearby Amigo's, he answered quickly and confidently: "They are different concepts with different themes...different except for the margaritas."

When asked if he was worried about locating his restaurant 100 yards from Webster's other Mexican restaurant, Milagro Modern Mexican, he answered the same way: "At Milagro, they do exactly what they say they're doing--modern Mexican. The vibe there is relaxed. La Cantina will be centered around rotisserie meats and small plates--little bites we call botanas--and the vibe will be more rowdy and boisterous." A little more hootin' and hollerin', as he put it.  "The vaquero theme and rancho music will create two completely different experiences." Then he tossed a slow curve: "You know, if anything, I see the competition not as Milagro but [nearby] Robust...we both focus on small plates and the vibe in each is upbeat."

The architect for the project is Chiodini Associates, a local firm that over the years has designed hundreds of restaurants. Trevino has spelled out a mid-April completion date, three weeks from Cinco de Mayo, the big day in America's Mexican restaurants, no matter were they are, no matter what the theme.   

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