The doors to Santa Fe ( 12316 Olive ) were quietly opened last week. It was all done by design. There were no social media announcements or live websites, balloons, sky-scanning searchlights, or inflatable dancing tubes, and there were no social media notifications.
Amer Abouwardah says that every restaurant, no matter how skilled the owners or staff, needs and deserves to be able to get the kinks out of the way before it gets chaotic. “But so few restaurants have this opportunity.” We tried to keep the number of guests to a minimum, spreading the word by word-of-mouth so that the staff was not overwhelmed and early guests had the experience they wanted.
Abouwardah also owns Oceano Bistro ( 44 N. Brentwood), Clayton. Tomorrow, July 21st, Abouwardah will cut the ribbon and open the grand opening.
This 7,000-square-foot area, which was previously home to EdgeWild Bistro & Tap and WildSmoke, as well as Culpepper’s, can seat 150. It also includes a small private space with a sliding barn hinge door. Two patios are located on either side of the manicured terrace. There are 14 seats in front and 30 at each end.
The footprint of the former tenant is the same, with the bar (and seating) on the right and the dining area on the left. In place of traditional tables and chairs, one bank of large booths was removed. Many other booths retain the faux hide upholstery from WildSmoke which offered barbecue in a more elegant setting.
As well, the Barnwood beams as knotty pine decorations adornment are still there. Wall art is still in process and includes larger pieces that Abouwardah collected from both local sources and his travels throughout the Southwest. There are also barstools and upholstered chairs in azure blue.
Two custom-made Spanish beaded coyotes are the focal point of the entranceway. Coyotes are a Native American symbol of a creator and supernatural creature. Abouwardah states that everyone wants to touch and examine them. However, the beading is delicate and fragile. They will be admired from afar by people.
Executive chef Armando Salazar is leading the kitchen team. He’s been with Abouwardah from their time at YaYa’s Bistro 23 years ago.
The restaurant’s name suggests that it is a Southwestern-inspired restaurant. It features a variety of dishes that are influenced by the use of chile peppers.