It takes a village
For 79 years, Jaime’s Spanish Village ruled the bohemian, music-centric Red River District with its no-fuss, fancy-free Tex-Mex atmosphere, dishes and drinks. Two years ago when the iconic restaurant sadly and unexpectedly closed, patrons of the haunt wondered what — if anything — could take its place. Behold the property’s three new tenants: Pelóns, 508 and Zorro.
Fast forward almost two years and the successful restaurateur is about to open three new projects all wrapped up in one: Pelóns, 508 and Zorro. The project, which is across the street from Stubb's, is set to open Thursday, May 17.
In fact, the old Spanish village seems quite a bit younger. The worn stone walkway outside the restaurant has been replaced with a polished wood patio. Three chipped angel statues have been painted gold and adorned with bright light fixtures. Numerous wrought-iron chandeliers outside the restaurant make the space seem a little more refined. Trademarks of Jaime’s Spanish Village, like the 500-year-old tree, are still there, but Pelóns brings about a breath of fresh Tex-Mex air.
Pelóns, the restaurant on the property, features classic Tex-Mex dishes; the side house, 508, is a chic bar with a mirror ceiling, worn fireplace and a classic bar menu of cocktails and beers; and Zorro, the food truck, hosts a small menu of signature dishes from Pelóns. Combined, the whole property is designed to host 500 people; the restaurant alone holds 110.
In redesigning the antique property, Guller enlisted the minds of famed architect Michael Hsu, landscape designer Mark Word and the branding genius of Guerilla Suit to conceptualize the trio of projects. Guller says that he wanted to reopen an exciting, modern Tex-Mex restaurant while embodying successful brands like Maudie’s, Trudy’s, Guero’s, Chuy’s and Pappasito’s.
Through his efforts, Guller wanted to maintain the legacy of Jaime’s Spanish Village while adding personal touches. In fact, the name Pelóns comes from a Spanish nickname the kitchen crew jokingly gave Guller: bald guy.
In fact, Guller specifically sought out Hsu, known for his work on Austin restaurants like La Condesa, Uchiko and Haddingtons, to carefully revitalize the space. The black and gold structure still has that cozy atmosphere that Jaime’s Spanish Village was famous for, but now features new modern fixtures, classic paintings, bright color palettes, sturdy furnishings and a renovated aesthetic environment.
Hsu says he dined at Jaime’s Spanish Village over the years and actually knew the former owners. So when the talented designer was hired to redesign the property, Hsu focused on utilizing the eclectic features already housed in the space, such as an old fireplace and the huge 500-year-old tree.
Guller says that Pelóns isn’t what patrons would normally expect from him, given his previous projects like Bikinis Sports Bar & Grill, but he says he was excited to leave his comfort zone and do something more risky and creative. In fact, he hopes Pelóns’ menu, drinks and overall atmosphere will prove he isn’t a one-trick pony restaurateur.