Chester will soon be saying ‘hola’ to a Spanish wine and tapas bar aiming for that authentic ambience based in an underground venue familiar to everyone.
El Sotano, within the former Mockingbird Taproom in Lower Watergate Street, opens to the public on Saturday, March 17.
Owner Roland Thomas, who has run a catering business at St Asaph in North Wales for 25 years, is an independent operator with ambitions to return to the days when the premises enjoyed its heyday as The Fat Cat.
He said: “We just thought the concept of an authentic bodega – which is a Spanish wine bar and tapas – they do have some in Chester but we thought there was a niche in the market to do something a bit more authentic.
“We just love the building. It lends itself to what you get in Spain, an underground bodega and we are decorating it with a Spanish feel with the dark greens and the bright reds.”
Head chef will be Daniel Rico Jakes from Malaga, who has trained around Spain and worked in tapas restaurants in Australia.
Meat and other ingredients will be sourced from local suppliers where possible with more specialist items imported from Spain. The business model is based on an average spend of £25 in the evening and £6 per head for light lunches aimed at office workers.
Customers can choose to dine or simply enjoy a drink. The range will include ‘fantastic’ specialist Spanish wines and sherries, a Spanish-themed cocktail list, Spanish beers as well as artisan beers.
Roland, who lives in Mold, says the success of the venture won’t be dependent on passing racegoers but hopes race meetings will be a bonus.
“If we are not busy on race days then we are doing something wrong," he commented.
There will be a soft launch for family, friends and invited guests on Friday, March 17, but the opening proper will be the following morning on Saturday, March 18.
For more details, follow the venue on Twitter @ElSotanoChester or visit www.elsotano.co.uk.