A blast of Mexican Fiesta colour and vibrant artwork will help announce the opening of a new Mexican restaurant in Gateshead this weekend.
Peyote will become the latest addition to the Low Fell dining scene when it launches this Saturday: the latest venture by local gin-producer Charlie Gibbs.
And Charlie, founder of Steampunk Spirits, is ensuring that when it opens its doors – in the former upstairs premises of Fell’s Kitchen in Durham Road – it won’t go unnoticed, with a colourful decor to match the sense of adventure on the menu.
Following a preview night for guests on Friday, the next evening will see the restaurant welcome its first customers who will find a range of authentic Mexican dishes and imported beers and spirits as well as a revamped interior of bright pinks and turquoise which features artwork by iconic Mexican painter Frida Kahlo.
While this will be a first restaurant for businessman Charlie, whose wife Julie has The Rare Drop artisan drinks shop which is also in Low Fell, he has previously run three pubs around the country which served food.
Hearing that the restaurant premises had come up for sale had immediately appealed to the entrepreneurial spirit that made Steampunk Spirits into such a success and has just seen him win the food and drink category of the Great British Entrepreneur Awards held at Baltic in Gateshead.
He said: “It had always been a germ of an idea to do a restaurant, as opposed to another pub, and Julie’s and my philosophy is that anything we get involved in needs to be local to us.”
Initially from Scotland, he said about putting down roots in the Low Fell community: “I’ve felt nothing but welcomed by the people around here.”
The decision on type of cuisine came after he took a poll of local residents’ views on Facebook about what kind of restaurant they would most like to see in the area.
With a wide range of tastes already catered for by local eateries, there turned out to be a definite answer.
“Mexican food was the clear leader,” he said.
The next step then was to find a chef and Charlie has appointed Reece Anderson, who has previously worked at the likes of Revolución de Cuba in Newcastle and TGI Friday’s, and his partner Amy Toytekin who also will be bringing plenty of experience to her role of front of house manager.
And, in keeping with the sense of community, they are also local.
Julie has had helped out with the restaurant’s design – with arty touches and patterned banquette seating adding to the flamboyant colours and artwork on the walls – and the pair drew from their own visits to Mexico as well as research which inspires the menu.
“One of our missions is to show people that Mexican food isn’t just fajitas and chili,” said Charlie, although there will be a chili on the menu: one without kidney beans and using steak instead of mince.
Nor does Mexican cuisine have to be spicy hot but there will be bottles of sauces on the restaurant tables so that diners can adjust dishes to their own taste.
Instead customers will find the likes of authentic burritos plus and tacos which are not the crispy shells they might be used to but rather soft flat tacos which then are folded over a mix of ingredients of varied flavours and textures. Colours of the Mexican flag will be represented in salsa and relishes and the menu will have a separate section of vegetarian dishes.
Drinks-wise, the options will include Mexican bottled beers and draft ale plus tequila and margaritas.
Saturday’s first night of business is already fully booked and after that Peyote – which is the name of a native Mexican cactus – will be open from Tuesday to Saturday, 5pm-11pm.
It will be hosting Taco Tuesdays – which echoes what has become a trend in the US and offers half-price tacos on the day – and will be looking at introducing family offers on Fridays.