Mercadito Hospitality is expanding rapidly, opening new concepts or forging new partnerships in Chicago, Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., and Las Vegas.
While partnerships with existing concepts will continue, the hospitality group is focused on building the flagship brand of Mercadito (which means little market in Spanish), says Alfredo Sandoval, Mercadito Hospitality managing partner. Additional locales under the Mercadito brand will open later this year in Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., and Las Vegas, in the Red Rock Casino Resort & Spa.
Mercadito Hospitality does not necessarily have an overall expansion plan in place, Sandoval acknowledges. “We are deal-driven. That’s the best way to explain our strategy,” he says. “We get calls from developers, hotel owners—anyone you can think of that would want a good restaurant on their property.”
Sandoval runs the business with his brother Felipe Sandoval, chef/partners Patricio Sandoval and Guillermo Tellez, and consultants Paul Tanguay and Tad Carducci, who run the beverage program.
Mercadito Hospitality’s latest venture, which starts up this month, is a partnership with Chicago's Municipal Bar + Dining Company, an upscale sports bar located in the city’s River North neighborhood. Also opening in 2014 in Chicago are Mercadito Counter and Tippling Hall, which Sandoval calls “our interpretation of a gastropub.”
Mercadito’s deal-driven expansion is not limited to the U.S.: London is also calling, with a restaurant group looking to bring the Mercadito concept to the British Isles.
Sandoval attributes the brand’s success to several factors. “We believe hospitality is so important in what we do,” Sandoval says. “Yes, you have to have great drinks, great food, [and] great location, but many restaurant owners forget about hospitality. If you have good hospitality, it enhances the food and beverage.”
Mercadito’s tacos, Sandoval says, are unlike tacos found at other Mexican restaurants. “We look at every tacos as its own, unique dish,” he says. “We have 12 on the menu. Each one is so completely different than the others. Each one brings its own explosion of flavor; nothing crosses over.”
Mercadito’s latest ventures join flagship concept Mercadito in Chicago and New York City; Double A, a cocktail lounge located beneath Mercadito Chicago; Tavernita and Barcito in Chicago's River North neighborhood; and Little Market Brasserie at Chicago's Talbott Hotel. The company launched MH Catering in 2013.
By Joann Whitcher