Monday, January 5, 2009

An interview with Dave Vendley of Calexico

We know how excited many of you are about the future opening of Calexico (aka the winners of the 2008 NYC Vendy awards, as this image from their website shows). Dave Vendley of the Vendley brothers, owners of the joint, has told WoCS that they will be opening their location at 122 Union St. during the second week of February. In the meantime, let us learn a little bit more about this very attractive new addition to the neighborhood. Dave was kind enough to agree to an interview, and here it is:

WoCS: What is the history of Calexico?
Calexico is a company started by my two brothers (Jesse and Brian) and I. Our goal was to make food that was inspired by Calexico, California; the town our family is originally from. About 2 years ago Jesse convinced Brian and I to move from California to try our hand at cooking food for the hungry streets of New York City. It seemed like a crazy idea at the time but we all thought it would be a really fun adventure.
WoCS: What prompted your decision to move from the street vendor world to the restaurant world?
Well we had always wanted a restaurant and it seemed like a natural evolution.
WoCS: What are some of the challenges you've faced in doing so?
None of us had any experience in working or owning a street cart and we definetly have no experience owning a restaurant so there have been a few bumps. We’ve been doing our best and learning as we go. All in all it’s progressing well, but we haven’t opened our doors yet so who knows what to expect.
WoCS: What made you choose this location?
We had been tentatively looking at restaurants for a few months and when we saw this space we immediately fell in love with it. The neighborhood seemed like a perfect fit for us. I don’t know, I guess its hard to put it in words, but it just felt right as clichĂ© as that is.
WoCS: What do you feel you bring to the neighborhood, and what does the neighborhood bring for you?
Hopefully we can bring good, moderately priced food to our future neighbors. This is food we were raised on so we love sharing it with people. The neighborhood gives us a strong sense of community. It was important for us to find a place that we felt comfortable. We have never opened a restaurant and we were a little intimidated at the prospect. Since we have occupied the space we’ve had numerous people stop us on the street and email us telling us how happy they are to see us in the neighborhood etc. It has been an overwhelmingly warm welcome and we greatly appreciate it.
WoCS: Do any of you live in the area?
Our head chef lives in Park Slope and Brian and I are currently looking for apartments in the area.

WoCS: What are some of your favorite neighborhood hangouts (other than your restaurant)?
Alma is great, their skydeck is amazing. Dub Pies is a cool spot too. The neighborhood has a really cool atmosphere and I keep discovering great stores, bars, and restaurants the more I’m down there.
WoCS: Are you familiar with the history of pushcarts on Columbia St.? Any chance you'd ever push your Calexico Cart through the neighborhood (or at least bring it to future events)?
We definetly plan on wheeling out the carts sometimes. Hopefully for future block parties etc.
WoCS: Tell us about the food!

Well we consider our food equal parts traditional Mexican taqueria and American barbeque. It’s a little different than what most people consider Mexican food, but we don’t strive too far away from the basic philosophies of Mexican cooking.
WoCS: Do you have plans to open other Calexico restaurants in the future?
We’ll see what happens, you never know. Right now we’re just really excited to open our restaurant on 122 Union St.
WoCS: Anything else that you'd like to share?
Once again, we’d all like to thank everyone for making us feel at home. We’re really excited to open and look forward to being a part of the community. Thanks!

1 comment:

Rafi said...

Thanks for the update! The interview has given me a 'taste' of what our new neighbors will be like and I am glad to hear they are community people.