Thursday, February 4, 2010
Uncle Julio’s co-founder to open Rusty Taco on Greenville Avenue in Dallas
Rusty Fenton, the former "Big Kahuna" for Trader Vic's, has set his sights on tacos.
DALLAS Veteran restaurateur Rusty Fenton, who co-founded the Uncle Julio's Mexican chain in the '80s and most recently worked for Trader Vic's at the Hotel Palomar in Dallas, has set his sights on tacos.
In March, he'll open Rusty Taco, a taqueria boasting a limited menu of nine tacos, with beer and margaritas, plus a selection of breakfast tacos.
"We're going to make our own tortillas, everything's from scratch, nothing's going to be bought," Fenton says. "What we've done is look around and ask ourselves, 'What is the best fish taco I've ever had?' I grew up in Houston, and Berryhill Tamale is where everybody goes for fish tacos in Houston. So we studied it and figured out their recipe. That's been our approach."
Fenton, who left the downsizing Trader Vic's in March 2009, also worked for Carlsson's E-Brands in the '90s, whose portfolio included Taqueria Canonita, the casual taqueria mini-chain co-founded by chef Stephan Pyles. A single Taqueria Canonita remains, at the Venetian Resort in Las Vegas.
"That's what really got me to the whole taco thing was when I worked for E-brands," he says. "That place was so far ahead of its time. If we had done Taqueria Canonita in town instead of the suburbs, I think it would still be around. My recipe for tacos al pastor is basically Stephan's; he still inspires me."
After Fenton's experience with Carlsson and Trader Vic's, where he was flying to open branches in Chicago and Kansas City, he likes that the Rusty Taco concept is smaller scale.
The new place will come with plenty of character, since it's going into the old Just Brakes building on Greenville Avenue.
"It's still going to look like a gas station when we finish, which might be appropriate for tacos," he says, joking. "If we were being the most efficient, it would've been cheaper to just knock it down and start over. But restaurants tend to all lay out perfectly the same. That's not as interesting. By keeping the original space, we hope to keep some personality. There's a tradition of gas stations that serve tacos. Besides, we wanted to retain the garage doors so we can open them up when it gets nice."
See more stories in:
- zOMG squee: One Direction pop-up store will open in Dallas
- Restaurant review: DaLat's pho-losophy centers on harmonic eats and stellar drinks
- Angelika screens LGBT documentary The OUT List on Thursday
- Mark Cuban gives SMU $100K to study "flopping" problem in NBA
- Summer at Seasons 52 means not wasting away again in No-Eatingville