by Nicki Wood
Alegria's majority owner is George Haddad, a San Francisco transplant and restaurateur, who spent a few minutes describing the Alegria vision and the physical dimensions of the project.
Haddad plans a lavish interior, starting with the size: the walls of Alegria enclose about 7,000 square feet. The kitchen alone is 2,000 square feet, and the bar area will seat 70. The dining room will seat 200 guests. Another 60 can lounge outside on the patio, where landscaping is already giving shape to the space.
Chef Al Vera, a veteran of Houston and New York City restaurants, relocated to Nashville two months ago to work on the kitchen details and menu for Alegria. The vision is for "a modern Mexican menu," says Haddad.
"You'll see the standard fajitas, tacos, burritos, etc., but it's all going to be the freshest and most flavorful ingredients," Haddad says. "There will also be a lot of dishes you might see somewhere like Cantina Laredo, like carnitas, cochinita pibil, fish and seafood. On weekends and during the week, there will be a specials. So not just your standard only."
Haddad has hired architect Mike Ireland and designer Cara Brock to put together a visually compelling space including a sleek, modern bar. The builder is WT Dubois, the builder behind Chris Hyndman's restaurants.
Haddad plans to hire 40 employees for the front of the house and 25 to 30 for the back of the house.
Soft opening is planned for late March or early April. For the inaugural party, look for a lavish grand opening in early April to include a fashion show with looks from Muse, free food and local bands.