Cholo Taqueria Coming to Gay Street

Future Home of Cholo Taqueria, 312 S. Gay Street, Knoxville, October 2015

Future Home of Cholo Taqueria, 312 S. Gay Street, Knoxville, October 2015

For months it’s seemed something has been happening in the Century Building in the ground-level space to the right. It turns out we’ll soon have a restaurant there, with a hoped for opening date of early December. Cholo Taqueria will be dedicated to two things: great tacos and great tequila. It’s a simple formula by design brought to you by some of the same investors who brought you Stock and Barrel with its beef and bourbon focus.

Chef Niko Angelos of Stock and Barrel will also take on those duties at the new restaurant, though the kitchen at both places reflects a group effort including his brother, Bill Angelos. The two are joined in this project by their brother Dino Angelos as well as Ben Austin. Bill said they had the idea in mind since they opened Stock and Barrel over two years ago. This specific space has been leased for a year as the group has worked through the challenges – like installing a large oven hood and a large grease interceptor – of converting a space in a 130-year-0ld building to a restaurant.

Niko Angelos, Ben Austin and Bill Angelos at the future home of Cholo Taqueria, 312 S. Gay Street, Knoxville, October 2015

Niko Angelos, Ben Austin and Bill Angelos at the future home of Cholo Taqueria, 312 S. Gay Street, Knoxville, October 2015

It’s the conversation about the food that gets the group most excited. They will take most food products directly from the source to your table themselves. Ben’s family owns a 1200 acre farm in Grainger County which will be a first source for much of the food. The tortillas will be made from corn – not flour – so they will be gluten-free.

Additionally, the group will make their own masa directly from the corn, starting with a process called nixtamelization in which the corn is soaked in an alkaline solution making it both more easily ground, but also increasing its nutritional value. There is only one other restaurant they’ve found (in Charleston) that is doing this entire process through to their tortillas. Bill noted that they, “want the tortilla to be party of the culinary experience,” not simply a structure to hold contents.

Ben Austin and Bill Angelos survey construction for Cholo Taqueria, 312 S. Gay Street, Knoxville, October 2015

Ben Austin and Bill Angelos survey construction for Cholo Taqueria, 312 S. Gay Street, Knoxville, October 2015

Construction for Cholo Taqueria, 312 S. Gay Street, Knoxville, October 2015

Construction for Cholo Taqueria, 312 S. Gay Street, Knoxville, October 2015

Construction for Cholo Taqueria, 312 S. Gay Street, Knoxville, October 2015

Construction for Cholo Taqueria, 312 S. Gay Street, Knoxville, October 2015

Much of those contents will be sourced from Ben’s family’s farm, including meat from pigs, lambs and goats. They will also source meat from other area farms, but stress that all their meat will be taken from animals they select, not ordered from a slaughterhouse. They also emphasize that they are part of a growing trend to attempt to utilize as many parts of each animal as possible, such as skin and bones. Niko called it, “nose to tail.” They will make their own chorizo.

They intend to use as much local produce as possible when it is available and even mentioned the possibility of greenhouse farming in the future to have a year-round supply of local, fresh vegetables. While the tacos will be offered in beef, pork, lamb and even wild game varieties, including bison and elk, they also made the point that they will definitely have vegetarian options. All tacos will be a la carte, meaning patrons buy one (around $3 -$4) or as many as they like and may mix and match the different types of which they plan to have around a dozen. The queso and guacamole will be homemade.

Construction for Cholo Taqueria, 312 S. Gay Street, Knoxville, October 2015

Construction for Cholo Taqueria, 312 S. Gay Street, Knoxville, October 2015

Similarly to their approach to bourbon at Stock and Barrel, their focus on Tequila will be to provide a large selection of excellent tequila at a range of price-points. Bill pointed out that tequila is for more than just taking shots in college, noting that there are many fine tequilas and mezcals of which many people are unaware. They’ll offer flights and a wide range of tequila-based craft cocktails. The cocktails will rotate based on seasons, featuring fresh juices and berries.

A bar is currently under construction toward the front of the space. The restaurant will be significantly wider and larger than Stock and Barrel, offering the opportunity to have booth seating along with traditional tables. Outside seating will be available and a back room, featuring large communal tables, will be available for larger groups of people and it will be available for rental for small private events. The lighting is being imported from Mexico and is ornate, Moroccan in style. Katrinas are also being imported for decoration. The basic look, however, will be a similar rough-cut, industrial look similar to that at Stock and Barrel.

Future Home of Cholo Taqueria, 312 S. Gay Street, Knoxville, October 2015

Future Home of Cholo Taqueria, 312 S. Gay Street, Knoxville, October 2015

They are proud of the business and the loyalty they’ve built at Stock and Barrel and want to replicate that in the new restaurant. They are proud to point out that most of the original kitchen staff, bartenders and wait staff have remained the same from the beginning at Stock and Barrel. They want the new place to be a place where the workers are happy and people enjoy meeting friends, laughing and having a good time.

Plans call for opening at the beginning of December – about six weeks from now. The restaurant will be open every day for lunch and for dinner and while hours aren’t completely set, the indication is that it will be open until about 10:00 PM on weekdays and 11:00 PM on weekends. Noting that sometimes patrons leave shows at one of the theaters late and want something to eat, they laughed and pointed out they will continue to serve as long as people continue to enter.

Comments

  1. Aaron Thompson says

    Glad to hear this great space is going to Niko and co. They do a great job at Stock and I know they’ll kill it with tacos!

  2. Yes! I love Stock & Barrel. Excited about this!

  3. Nancy Voith says

    Stock & Barrel is always one of our first “go to” dinner choices downtown. We look forward to adding this option to the list. Having lived in Texas for three decades before coming back home, it’s been hard to find inventive Southwestern-style eating here. Sounds like Cholo Taqueria may just fit the bill.

  4. Daniel Johnson says

    I’m curious if Bill and Niko are of the same Angelos family that run restaurants in Morristown, Dandridge and White Pine

  5. I look forward to the food, but why ‘Cholo’ ? Although it had other meanings in some places, in the U.S. it’s a slang term for a Mexican gangster, with traditionally negative connotations.

    • KnoxvilleUrbanGuy says

      I had no idea what the word meant, so I looked it up as I wrote the article and wished that I’d caught it in time to ask. From what I read (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cholo, among other sources), it is a word that has shifted in meaning quite dramatically. It has been used to reference Mexican gangs in the US. Originally used as a pejorative in Mexico to reference people of some indigenous ancestry, it’s now been taken for use as a source of pride for that same group. Currently in the US it often appears more in reference to Mexican-American or Latin-American working class style or culture, which I assumed would be the reference here. Still, it is a word with a lot of baggage.

  6. I would never call a mexican-american a ‘cholo’, they are ‘chicanos’, and definitelly would not use the term to refer to any latin american of the working class. Even if people within these communities do use the term, that still gives them no right to use it. I guess if they are gonna name this place this way they should also open a soul food place called “N#%!€&s Soul Food”.

    • KnoxvilleUrbanGuy says

      I’m asking why the usage of that word. If I hear back, I’ll post the response.

    • Your comment is flippant and ridiculous. False outrage on behalf of a people that don’t find it offensive. Absolutely disgusting.

      • Randall Green says

        It’s not at all false outrage at all. Cholo is a racial stereotype typically considered negative. In fact there was just recently a daily show skit about it. Just because you aren’t aware of that and how inappropriate it is for a group of white dudes to use it to sell another cultures food is your problem. This is litterally like a group of white guys creating Thug Life Fried Chicken / Soul Food. It’s gross.

  7. Sounds delicious, I can’t wait! I’m glad to hear about all the seating options as well.

  8. I’m a born and raised Californian, and that name rings offensively in my ears. I hope they’ll consider changing it. I don’t want Knoxville to be that town.

    • My wife is Mexican-American and does not find this offensive in the least and thinks it is absolutely ridiculous that people are getting offended on her ethnicity’s behalf. Silly.

      • Randall Green says

        No it’s not silly… You speaking on behalf of your wife on the other hand……

      • I am an immigrant and, considering the present issues involving immigrant hate/racial profiling, I VERY MUCH care how Latinos are portrayed to others in this country and specially in my community. The word ‘Cholo’ has a long history of being used in a denigrating way, then later on it was turned around to be used as a symbol of pride in the ethnic movements of the 60’s. My point is that if you are part of that ‘movement’ and you are trying to empower yourself and your community, all the power to you, but there is a difference between that and straight up cultural appropriation. Some people share a kinship, and some others just can’t use that language.
        If you or your wife don’t understand why stereotyping is wrong and why this kind of negative stereotyping is considered highly insensitive to our present times and situation then I invite you to ask yourself: Why is stereotyping wrong?, What is racial stereotyping?, what are the differences between ethnic empowerment vs. cultural appropriation?

        In short, please become more aware of the impact that stereotyping has on our communities.

        Something for your reading: http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/oliver-burkemans-blog/2012/dec/12/stereotypes-bad-even-when-good

  9. Alan Bajandas says

    Seriously, this name is offensive. (Look it up in the dictionary. It says “usually disparaging” right next to the definition.) I guess will just have to keep going to my Fountain City spot with 1.50 tacos, no menu, one plastic table, and no racism—all made by actual working-class Latinos! Screw this. Rich white dudes do not get to reappropriate slurs to take back their power. Only the objects of those slurs do.

  10. It looks to me as if the name is controversial enough that they should reconsider. Whether or not it is offensive to some, it actually IS offensive to others and therefore seems evident that it would not be a wise business move to use it. Alienating clientele for any reason seems foolish. There are plenty of acceptable alternatives that avoid any of the negative connotations or controversy. Just saying.

  11. I was pretty shocked to see the name of this restaurant while downtown last night. I looked it up, and now see that many of these comments are from October. Do you know if there are any plans to change the name?

    • KnoxvilleUrbanGuy says

      I was informed there is no plan to change the name.

    • They have not made any comments about any of this. I am pretty sure they will ignore it unless the community does more to raise their voice, specially the Mexican community I believe. I am very active with the immigrant community and will be bringing this to their attention. Their is a radio show led by the Comite Popular de Knoxville on Saturday mornings on WOZO 103.9 http://www.wozoradio.com, I will make sure they discuss it there as well. Thanks for the concern.

  12. How to apply. ?

  13. Cholo Taqueria says

    We have not ignored the comments that we have seen posted on the Inside of Knoxville article, nor other social media outlets. We simply cannot respond to every comment and furthermore have no intention of engaging in any type of back and forth online or other
    social media melee. The name Cholo was actually originally suggested to us by friends of Hispanic origin and we fully vetted the name with several Hispanic friends who took no issue at all with
    the name. They found it perfect for the type of taqueria we were opening and to match the décor and artwork, all of which was called Cholo art. We learned this culture from the long time friends, co-workers and employees we have grown up with. We have grown to love the rich history and culture from the many holidays, weddings, family functions and Sunday dinners we have shared with them. We have learned about
    various foods and cooking methods from growing up with these friends. This is the reason we chose this cuisine.

    We loved the name from the get go because in the restaurant industry in which we grew up, cholos or vato locos were hardcore/badass line cooks who embraced the fringe lifestyle associated with the industry. These were purists who did not compromise, nor
    worry with the concerns of others questioning their seemingly strange antics. Anthony Bourdain said he would rather have a kitchen of cholos than Culinary Institute of America graduates, and we completely agree. We understand that this culture doesn’t represent the Hispanic population as a whole. Furthermore there are businesses,
    restaurants, songs, art, and various other medias that reference the term cholo, all of which are owned by people of diverse and various ethnicities.

    We are of the firm belief that words are neutral and people give them intent. We have done our due diligence in referencing that term and mean no ill toward any ethnicity of people or for it to be disparaging at all. Quite the contrary, we view the term as being
    positive and chose it just for that. We intend on being the most hardcore and authentic restaurant in Knoxville. As for the cultural appropriation component, it is 2016 and nearly everything is appropriated from another culture, especially in America. The use of
    the term is quite different in modern American usage than its origination in other Hispanic speaking cultures, and since we are in America, that is the prevailing definition. We are appropriating a lot of food items from other culture, and hopefully
    paying them homage by keeping the techniques and cooking methods as authentic as possible. With three of the partners being sons of Greek immigrants, this whole nonsense has reminded us of the term gypsy, which in Greece is a derogatory term for half-breed, impure ancestry. Here in the States, it is regarding as an endearing term for being a free spirit, used across multiple ethnicities.

    We understand the hyper-sensitivity around racial issues in America right now, and understandably so. Noting this, however, we also note that the “offended by everything” culture in America is regressive, selective, hypocritical, and damaging to people who
    are out there trying to create things, while critics only want to destroy. The political correctness movement run amok is not going to usurp what we believe and what people who are associated with us know. We do not want to isolate anyone or disparage any
    group, and hope that never happens. Also, we truly mean no ill intent with the term Cholo itself, hopefully this has given everyone some context around why we chose the name we did.

  14. How can four white dudes make the most “authentic” Mexican restaurant in Knoxville? Seems like a slight to the Mexican restaurants actually ran by Mexicans. The issue of their name, compounded with that ridiculous statement they released (which pretty much starts off with “our Hispanic friend gave us permission”) is gaining attention. If they want any chance at becoming a restaurant people are going to support, or actually even allow to be open in this town, they better change that horrifically offensive name.

  15. People, seriously, get over the name. If you find it offensive enough not to eat there….then don’t. If you want to eat there….then do it. It’s a name, not a political, social, racial stance on something. For Christ’s sake, it is a restaurant name. Get over it.

  16. Squirtrifle says

    “We understand the hyper-sensitivity around racial issues in America right now, and understandably so. Noting this, however, we also note that the “offended by everything” culture in America is regressive, selective, hypocritical, and damaging to people who are out there trying to create things, while critics only want to destroy.”

    Old, refreshing, and more relevant than ever. Bravo, amigos!

  17. darrell cox says

    i dont understand. is this a new story. one comment is dated this week. the rest are all over the place, 2016 2015. so please update me.

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