A few years ago when Tony Seichrist was opening The Wyld Dock Bar out on the marsh in Savannah, he joked about how he wanted to eventually get to a point where he closed during January. Thereby avoiding, not only the slow season around here, but also the dead of winter.
“I’d like to spend a month in Key West every year.” he said at the time.
A few Januarys later, Tony now finds himself, not only not in Key West, but taking on a new venture that will likely keep him from that month-long siesta for the foreseeable future. Tony is part of a group that has taken over the space formerly occupied by The Florence on Victory Drive at Whitaker. It’s called “El Coyote” and it is set to open later this month. It will be the 1st of 3 concepts to occupy that massive space branded as One West Victory.
“We are excited about this. Moreso, after spending some time down in Mexico” Tony says. He tells me he and Executive Chef Landon Thompson spent 4 days in Mexico City recently getting a feel for the fine tuning of what they had discussed for the better part of a year.
“People have an idea of what they expect Mexican food to be.” Tony says. “Same with Italian. There is an expectation. What we loved about Mexico City is that the food there can be incredibly progressive.”
That will give you a glimpse of where these guys are headed with this menu. Is it going to be your favorite authentic Mexican spot you might find the back of a bodega? No. Neither will it be something so pretentious and high priced that you will wonder if there is a monthly payment plan available for the guacamole.
“We want it feel fun.” Tony says as he described the remodel currently underway in the main dining room. “There will lights running the length of the room and a lot more color in here. We’ve also taken significant steps to address the sound.”
Previous conversations with Tony led me to believe they knew what the challenges were with the previous tenant. Little by little they are being addressed. The upstairs space that never really caught on last time around will become The Wyld Oyster Bar. Basically an “on-land adult version” of The Wyld Dock Bar, which Tony hopes to open late Spring/Early Summer. “I originally this (upstairs) to open 2 weeks after El Coyote but the guys convinced me that we don’t need to rush.”
The menu, the guys say, is a bit of a collaboration. They did travel to Mexico together and like we said, have undoubtedly discussed -ad nauseaum- the kinds of dishes that will and won’t work in this market. Lengua? Tripa and all of those goodies? They’ve been tossed around, but that will certainly be down the line. After they’ve earned Savannah’s trust with the nuts and the bolts.
Speaking of, there will be a good sprinkling of seafood on the menu “We’ve got it here, why not use it?” As well as locally sourced pork and beef. The day I visited, Landon was testing out a new rub he made on some pork for their carnitas. A 2 day or so process. “Lots of lard. Condensed milk, Mexican beer, etc.” Landon says.
Cooked up. Cooked down. Wash, rinse, repeat. The way it is supposed to be. There are no corners being cut with these dishes and you can absolutely taste it. At least in the couple of items I got to try.
Thompson’s background, slightly decorated you would say. He was previously at Cooks and Soldiers in Atlanta. Where he was named a semi-finalist for “Rising Star of the Year” by the James Beard Foundation. Clearly the man has talent. And he brought a number of cooks with him from that Atlanta kitchen as well.
“Yeah, Landon was supposed to come down here with me and open The Wyld” Tony says. “Timing was off. It wound up working out. He landed at Cooks and Soldiers, got some great press there and now he’s ready to go here.”
We mentioned 3 concepts going in to the space. We’ll get into the 3rd a little more down the road, but right now the plan is for Savannah’s best Ramen Noodle Bar. “Coffee just won’t work. The kids can get free Starbucks almost anywhere. We are excited about the Ramen shop.” he says.
First things first, El Coyote will be going through their test runs mid-February with a floating (as in not set in stone yet) open date of February 22nd. I’ve got a good feeling we are going to Eat It and Like It.
See you on TV
# # #