Food News

Way Back Team to Open Wayward at Former Zengo and La Güera Address

Zengo will soon become Wayward, from the team that opened the Way Back.
Zengo will soon become Wayward, from the team that opened the Way Back. Danielle Lirette
When Zengo and La Güera closed last week, they ended a thirteen-year run in Riverfront Park and vacated some prime restaurant real estate on Little Raven Street. So it’s no surprise that the spaces aren't going to stay empty for long: Way Back and American Grind partners Chad Michael George, Kade Gianinetti and Jared Schwartz have inked a deal for the address, where they plan to open Wayward, a new restaurant and bar.

Wayward will follow “the same ethos of responsible sourcing and being good stewards to the land” as the Way Back, says George. “We’re trying to inspire people to use, expand and rely on a more regional food system. This is a much bigger platform to send our message out, and I think the food there will reflect that.” To that end, the partners will slot Wayward’s dinner and brunch service into the Zengo space, and the space that formerly housed La Güera will morph into a grab-and-go breakfast and lunch counter that will also serve coffee. (The two spaces are connected, and that alcove will function as a private dining room at night.)

The food, says George, will be “approachable, but very seasonal and vegetable-driven.” And it won’t be an exact copy of the Way Back, not least because Sam Charles and Marcus Eng, the chefs at the Way Back, will not be running the kitchen in the new space. “Sam and Marcus want to continue to focus on the Way Back,” George explains. “They may have some input here, but it really depends on who our chef ends up being.”

The guys are still finalizing those details — as well as hiring a general manager and beverage director — and will announce who they’ve locked down soon. The bar, says George, will be whiskey-focused, but as at the Way Back, will “focus on seasonality and creating as little waste as possible and cross-utilizing with the kitchen.”

Before they’re up and running, the new owners plan to give the restaurant a cosmetic makeover, relying on the team at Raw Creative, which also designed the Way Back space.

If all goes according to plan, Wayward should open in August. “I’m excited,” says George. “That’s one of many adjectives.”

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Laura Shunk was Westword's restaurant critic from 2010 to 2012; she's also been food editor at the Village Voice and a dining columnist in Beijing. Her toughest assignment had her drinking ten martinis and eating ten Caesar salads over the course of 48 hours. She still drinks martinis, but remains lukewarm on Caesar salads.
Contact: Laura Shunk