CHARLOTTETOWN, PEI — A new restaurant brings the flavors of Mexico to the Founders Food Hall in Charlottetown.
Tekila Mexican Cuisine, a new vendor in the venue, will feature a variety of authentic Mexican dishes and beverages inspired by food vendors found throughout the country.
“It’s a very traditional Mexican restaurant,” said co-owner Kevin Gallant. “The food is what you would find if you were walking down the street in Mexico City, with all the different vendors on the side of the road. It is designed to be quick but very delicious and flavorful.
Created by Kevin and his wife, Nancy Gallant, owners of Donuts by Design, the idea came after the couple discussed creating new items to represent Mexican cuisine in their donut shop.
“We always knew we wanted to do some kind of Mexican food because there are a lot of Mexicans in PEI and my wife is from Mexico,” Kevin said. “We wanted to do Mexican-themed donuts with spices and such, but instead decided to consider doing a full Mexican restaurant.”
While in Mexico, Nancy owned two restaurants. She said she was excited to bring those same experiences to Charlottetown through Tekila.
“I come from Mexico City. There, the best food you can find is on the street,” she said. “We’ll have all of that here, like tacos, quesadillas, I want to have foods from different parts of Mexico, all different options.”
Apart from food, the couple also want to highlight the drink of their new restaurant’s namesake – Tequilla.
“The reason behind the name, Tekila, is because of Tequilla, Mexico. That’s where all the great tequilas were made,” Kevin said. don’t normally see at a liquor store or buy at a regular bar.”
Some of those featured include a bottle of Don Julio 1942 and selections of 1800 Tequila.
“Most people, when they think of tequila, they think of lemon and salt and just beat it,” Kevin said. “Tequilla is actually a drink to be sipped. You put it on ice and sip it. It’s good for different cocktails, margaritas, and we want to showcase this little piece of Mexico.
The new restaurant will open alongside its Donuts by Design booth in the food hall, allowing for potential crossovers in the future, Keven said.
“With Tekila, we’re going to be working with Donuts by Design, especially with our breakfasts,” he said. “We’re going to have a traditional Mexican breakfast and a Canadian breakfast, so when people come in, Donuts by Design will provide the breads, cookies, teas and everything is homemade.This summer, I think we will try to introduce spicy chocolate in Donuts by Design.
Although Kevin also has a long experience in the food business, running two restaurants wasn’t always the plan. After attending Holland College Culinary Institute of Canada in 1998 and spending years working in restaurants, he changed careers and followed a new path.
“I got a little tired of working in restaurants and always working for somebody else, so I got into driving tractor-trailers for a few years,” Gallant said. “However, I had a car accident in February (of this year) and lost part of my vision in my left eye, so my truck driving days were over.
“We were talking about (going back to catering) more and more all the time. So I sold my house and bought a donut shop.
Since taking over Donuts by Design in June, the business has grown a lot, Kevin said.
“We increased sales with all of our new products that we introduced,” he said. “We have a great clientele. We’ve only just introduced coffee here over the past few months, so we see a steady stream of people coming in the mornings to try our coffee. We don’t just make donuts anymore; we do a lot of different things.
Kevin said they have introduced a gluten-free menu, available from Friday to Sunday, and will soon be installing a mochaccino machine and selling Swiss hot chocolate.
As for Tekila, the interest shown by its customers and visitors to the room has continued to grow.
“We’ve had a lot of people approach us at Donuts by Design saying, ‘Hey, when does it open? We are here today, can we have a preview of the menu. People are excited,” Kevin said.
He said they had planned to open on December 8, but due to delays they are now considering a potential opening on December 13, with a grand opening event in January.
“Canadians love Mexican food, so I want to show them the different dishes that Mexico can really offer,” Nancy said. “We’ll try to do that here, and I think Kevin and I will make amazing food, (a mix of) Canadian and Mexican, it’ll be something special.”
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Cody McEachern is a business reporter with the SaltWire Network in Prince Edward Island.