Tom Douglas is planning to open a cantina/taqueria this fall because, why not?
Tentatively called The Lone Stranger, it'll be located near the pod that houses all of his other restaurants in Belltown (Lola, Palace Kitchen, Dahlia Lounge, Serious Pie, Tanakasan) in The Martin building on Fifth and Lenora.
I sat down with Douglas to learn more about this new concept he’s launching.
Here are 10 things to know:
- The name The Lone Stranger was inspired by a neon sign (pictured) Douglas bought at an art gallery.
- He was struck by the image on the sign. “I had [the cantina] in my head and it’s next to the Cinerama. And it just struck me as a nice combination of movie history and then also adding the word cantina to it—a little southwest, a little Tex-Mex a little movie theater theatrics.”
- The cantina will house about 40 seats and will take up about a quarter of the space.
- The rest of the space will be used as a bread-baking facility for all of Douglas' restaurants. Currently, bread baking is being done at his production bakery (Dahlia Workshop) in South Lake Union. “With the new restaurants and the upcoming new restaurants and a couple of other projects, the pastry kitchen needs to expand and the bread bakery is getting squeezed. We had planned to put the bread bakery in Home Remedy as kind of the anchor food stuffs for that space, but we quickly ran out of space there.”
- Douglas has been talking about doing a cantina for 10 years. “You just never know where it’s going to fit in right, and to me, it kind of fit with the theater — the idea of doing an inexpensive quick meal before or after the theater.”
- He gets that Palace Kitchen might not be your cup of pre-movie tea. “I think you can eat cheap [at Palace Kithen], but I don’t know that everyone feels that way. It’s frustrating sometimes when you see, like, Godzilla over the last few weeks…you see 800 people come for each show and wait in line and about 794 of them walk right by the Palace Kitchen because it’s not the ‘every man’ restaurant. And [the cantina] is intended to be — it’s mostly a bread bakery and tortilla factory and this little bit in front is supposed to be an everyday, a little taqueria, just a little margarita bar.”
- When asked if the cantina will have familiar food, Douglas responded, “I hope not.” The menu is still being finalized and a chef is yet-to-be announced.
- You can expect to find food Douglas loves to eat. “I love a good taco. I love a good enchilada. I love a good relleno. I want to think about corn tortillas in a…some people might take this wrong, and I don’t mean it at all like I’m trying to do better — I’m trying to do different. With Lola, I didn’t try to do the classic Greek food. I tried to do something different. What is it like if I take it on? Serious Pie is not like every other pizza, it’s different. That doesn’t make it better or worse, just different. I’d like to do the same thing [with the cantina] because that’s how I like to think about food.
- Fermented tortillas, anyone? “Particularly with the tortillas, thinking about different kinds of fermentation on the corn, like fermenting it in beer for two weeks, maybe before you grind the corn. Is that a tortilla? A Mexican person would probably say no. But for me, it’s not about trying to be authentic, it’s about, ‘How fun would that be?’ It’s the thrill of the test. So, that’s what we’re playing with right now is all that testing time.”
- September is the target opening date, around the same time he's slated to open his third Serious Pie location. That opening is looking like mid-October, Douglas tells me.