LAKEWOOD RANCH — Even as a veteran restaurant owner, one of the last things John Breiner ever expected to do was open a Mexican eatery.
But it’s happening.
Breiner, owner of Ed’s Tavern, will open Eduardo’s Cantina on Lakewood Ranch Main Street the week of July 12.
“I’m excited for another adventure,” Breiner said. “I’m always looking for the next challenge. This is a brand-new undertaking.”
The idea for a Mexican restaurant wasn’t something Breiner considered until after mid-2009 when Main Street hosted a special Cinco de Mayo celebration. For the occasion, Breiner had several of his chefs, who were originally from Mexico, prepare some authentic Hispanic cuisine as an option for his patrons.
“We did a slew of Mexican dishes,” Breiner said. “The response was overwhelming — so much so that we catered several events (with Mexican food only).”
Many customers encouraged Breiner to make the recipes permanent offerings on the menu, and within a few months, Ed’s began offering Mexican specials on Saturdays only.
“We started having people come in just for the Mexican special,” he said.
Meanwhile, Breiner had been looking an opportunity to open another Ed’s Tavern restaurant. But none of the available spaces he saw seemed suitable.
When Main Street’s property manager called to see if Breiner would consider opening a Mexican restaurant, Breiner showed little hesitation. After discussing the opportunity with his wife, Jackie, he decided to pursue the idea.
The new location just down the street from Ed’s Tavern would help ensure that Breiner could manage two restaurants while still making time for his wife and 7-year-old boys, he said.
Breiner took the space once occupied by Astoria Fine Russian & American Cuisine June 1 and has been working nonstop — with the exception of a vacation to Cozumel, Mexico, a few weeks ago.
Although the trip had been planned in January — before Breiner had ever considered the cantina — he and his family used the opportunity to pick up some authentic decorations for the new restaurant.
Robby Chiossi, Breiner’s brother-in-law and the cantina’s future general manager, has been helping with painting and other tasks.
“That’s been really cool,” Breiner said. “You need as much family to help you with these ventures as you can get.”
Many of Chiossi’s recipes, including his fiesta guacamole and fire-roasted salsa, will be featured on the cantina’s menu. The other dishes were created by several of Ed’s Tavern’s Mexican chefs, who will be heading over to the cantina to work once the facility opens. Breiner said Ed’s has been training replacement chefs to make sure no quality of service is lost as the transition occurs.
Eduardo’s, which will have a bar, also will offer daily specials.
“Everything will be homemade, authentic Mexican fare from tacos to tamales,” Breiner said. “It’s not only a food; it’s almost like a lifestyle. I’m pretty excited.”
The cantina will offer live mariachi music on Friday and Saturday nights. A grand opening has not yet been scheduled but likely will occur Aug. 1, Breiner said.
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