During a weekend scouting mission for new restaurants, I'm pretty sure I scared the shit out of Andy Koncsik. He's the guy who, along with his wife, Estela, is opening La Brisa Mexican Restaurant in the former Cafe Etoile space at 375 South Pearl Street. And I don't blame him one bit for looking like he was less than a second away from calling the cops -- a natural impulse when a weird girl with a camera and a notepad sneaks through the back-alley door, nearly tripping over the ladder.
So anyway, once we got it all sorted out, Andy, who's owned McMahon Dry Cleaners, right next door to La Brisa, since 1994, told me that Estela, who's from the village of Santa Barbara in Chihuahua, Mexico, is going to bring the foods from her homeland to Washington Park, which Andy says is great for the neighborhood. "We've had a restaurant floating around in our heads for quite a while, and despite a bad economy, I think that when Wash Park bounces back, it will bounce back big time, so we think this is a good idea," he explained. "We're going to have some standards -- burritos and fajitas -- on the menu, but a lot of the dishes will pull from Chihuahua, and we're also going to serve breakfast every day, all day. We're going to be very kid-friendly, too."
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That part worried me, so I asked him if I could expect neon orange cheese. "No neon orange cheese here," he promised, "but Blue Bonnet is right up the street if you want that."
Not so much, but that's where the regulars from Candlelight Tavern, which sits on the south side of La Brisa, at 383 South Pearl Street, might end up after a few shots of Jack, since Andy isn't exactly thrilled with the college crowd that populates the joint. "The crowds are too rowdy, they don't act responsibly, Candlelight doesn't keep them under control and I come to work only to find puke at my front door," he told me. "So, yeah, it's a big thorn in my eye."
Since I live in the 'hood, worship the Candlelight, have a kid, hate yellow cheese and love breakfast and Mexican food, I'm really hoping that come June when La Brisa opens, we can all get along.
How 'bout it, boys?