There’s a new tequila bar downtown called El Patrón Tequilería & Cuisine, and it’s just what we’ve been missing.
El Patrón had its grand opening the week before Cinco de Mayo — everyone’s favorite day to go out for margaritas. The owner, Luis Escudero, set an ambitious six-month opening plan after he signed a lease for the Gothic Building space that once was home to “Nuevo Mod Mex.”
Escudero, along with some help from friends and family, completely remodeled the interior of the space, built up and trained a full staff, and developed bar and kitchen menus.
Escudero credits his success so far to his experience at his family’s restaurant in Seville, which is also called El Patrón, and his engineering education from the University of Akron.
The original El Patrón in Seville was opened 10 years ago by Escudero’s father. Escudero, along with the rest of his family, worked there through high school and college. When Escudero graduated college, he took over as operations manager in Seville. Escudero says he’s most comfortable running around a busy restaurant, “I’ve worked every position, from busboy to general manager.”
Watching his father open a restaurant as a teenager taught Escudero a lot. He remembered specifically how unprepared they had been for the opening night back then, and those memories influenced his strategies this time around.
Being an engineer has also had a positive impact on Escudero’s business and management philosophies. He describes going to college and getting his degree as “One of my biggest blessings. Engineering is all about systems, and a restaurant is made of systems.” Being so process-oriented helps him and his team stay organized, which makes everything flow.
Talking to Escudero, you can tell he loves what he does. He told me with pride how the menu was developed with chef James Phillips and help from his mom, Gabriela, and her recipes from Mexico City. He loves sharing his culture with his team, so they can share it with guests. Phillips, who is the executive chef at El Patrón, is an Akron kitchen veteran.
Given the loungey vibe of El Patrón, most of the menu is organized into small plates — everything from vegan paddle cactus tacos to Kobe tartara. The ingredients are super fresh and most items are sharable, especially the big fajita plates.
Behind the bar, you’ll find classic Mexican beers on tap, and of course, a huge selection of tequila and mezcal. Cocktails are organized into sections: Palomas, Traditional Margaritas, Craft Margaritas, and Craft Cocktails – all of which include tequila or mezcal. (Yes, you can get margarita flights!)
When I asked Escudero what his favorite thing about starting his own place from scratch has been, he quickly replied, “building my team.” He says he’s been particularly blessed in this area, and that his staff has values that align with his when it comes to work ethic and a focus on positivity.
So what’s been the hardest part? “Actually running the business — doing everything — it takes an immense amount of brainpower,” says Escudero. But with his experience and his team, it seems like he’s up for the challenge.
We can look forward to sitting on that beautiful rooftop patio at El Patrón as soon as the weather warms for summer. Escudero plans on having live music there when the time is right.
For now, El Patrón is open for lunch at noon Monday through Saturday; they close at 10:00 pm Monday-Wednesday, but on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays they’re open until 2:00 am. They’re closed on Sundays.
Emily Anderson thinks a classic marg on the rocks with salt is perfection.
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