As restaurant owners have been forced to take a backseat to the coronavirus pandemic, what with strictly enforced restrictions, re-openings and even re-closing for some, it’s safe to say that 2020 has been a rollercoaster ride for the restaurant industry. With challenges that the industry has never seen before, many restaurateurs have had to re-evaluate their business models. For Santiago Perez Suarez, owner of New York City’s high-end Mexican restaurant Cosme, the pandemic has indeed been a wake up call. In anticipation for another addition to his collection of restaurants, this time in the heart of the Arts District in Los Angeles, California, Perez has taken this time during the pandemic to take a closer look at the way he does business.
“The pandemic made us rethink our business model. Restaurants are meant to be full, both to generate enough revenue to pay expenses and to create an ambiance,” Suarez says. “This has given us time to challenge assumptions we have always had about the business and to explore new opportunities. Adaptability is what I believe counts these days.”
While most restaurant owners are trying to manage their current operations, Suarez is currently navigating the challenges of the pandemic for his current restaurants as he additionally prepares for the opening of his LA restaurant, Damian. Fortunately, thanks to an optimal design and layout for the restaurant, Perez is optimistic for Damian’s September grand opening. Damian will join the Arts District where its neighbors will be LA hotspots like Soho Warehouse and Bestia.
“It is our only restaurant where we’ll have half of the restaurant outdoors, with a beautiful central patio just like in old Spanish Haciendas in Mexico,” Suarez says. “ I think it will be our most playful and free venture.”
Despite his history of curating an authentic Mexican, yet high-end dining experience in his restaurants in New York and Las Vegas, Suarez looks forward to the opening of Damian purely due to its connection and proximity to Mexico. With an obvious, true Mexican influence ingrained into the culture of Los Angeles, Perez’s Damian will only enrich the Mexican dining experience.
In such a time of uncertainty, Suarez hopes that Damian will serve as an exuberant addition to the Los Angeles area that will facilitate togetherness and community, within the limitations of social distancing mandates.
“With Damian, we’ll try to capitalize in the sense that Mexican food in LA is much more complex than in other parts of the country,” he says. “We can take more risks. We can be more inventive.”
For more information on Damian, visit www.damiandtla.com.
Article by Magdalena Munao