Dashi food truck owners Stephen Thompson and Oscar Hines are almost finished with the renovation at 1262 Remount, the space they purchased for the Asian-Latin fusion truck's permanent home last May. They're planning to open the counter-service restaurant for lunch and dinner this June. The aesthetic of the restaurant is decidedly — purposefully — disco era. "This was a convenience store in the '70s," says Hines. "We're trying to adopt that '70s theme."
Boys are back in town
For now, the Remount Road restaurant remains the way it looked as El Chapin restaurant (they're planning to repaint). Nearby Dashi, Remount Road is marked with gas stations, churches, and low-key retail strips with a few vacant spots. For the location, you can't beat the size of the space — they'll be able to seat 130 people inside and out — and neighborhood Facebook pages often debate whether Charleston Farms, on the south side of Remount, is technically part of booming Park Circle. (Real estate prices indicate that at least the the boom has arrived.)
This wasn't the owners' first choice. Before they landed on Remount, they had checked out the building that's now home to Southern Roots, as well as Codfather's new spot. But they're happy they're here.
"We like this neighborhood," says Hines. "There's one person I know who is working for us who lives two blocks away and given the density and configuration, people could live within walking distance of the restaurant."
As rents rise and tourists flock, affordable neighborhood joints are becoming increasingly appealing. "This is where we take our food truck a lot," says Thompson. "We're excited and I think the people in the community are excited, too."
- Google streetview
Affordable property + more space = greater opportunity: The restaurant boasts a separate commissary kitchen prep and storage area which will service the food truck; the huge glass-enclosed walk-in freezer is visible from behind the turquoise-tiled front counter — it used to be the beer cave for the convenience store; and the kitchen, well, Thompson says it's so big he's not sure what he'll do with all of it. But he knows paella, rabbit, and elevated counter-service fare is on the menu.
Smoke on the water
Thompson, who worked at Basil, Barsa, and Prohibition before fully committing to Dashi, is drawing inspo from those spots, as well as from restaurants all over the country as he crafts his lunch and dinner menu — James Beard award winner Fat Rice in Chicago, Argentinian wood-fired grill Gaucho's in Pittsburgh.
"I'm not here trying to be authentic Asian, authentic Latin," says Thompson, acknowledging that those cuisines have heavily influenced the menu. "I'm going to do my own thing, with my own perspective, and that's the route we'll go. It's been successful on the truck doing it like that."
For lunch, expect truck staples like tacos, burritos, and pad Thai. Dinner will give chef a chance to flex on the expansive griddle, channeling the flavors from places specializing in flavorful global cuisine.
"Fat Rice, those kinds of flavors, I've never seen anything like it here," says Thompson. "And we literally flew to Pittsburgh for a day to go to counter-service Gaucho's. They do tons of beef and racks of lamb; for $55 you can get five-and-a-half ounces of five different cuts of steak, plus grilled ciabatta and chimichurri, I'd love to do cool steak plated dinners, something to share."
"It's hard to find counter service places [like that]," says Hines. "That’s what we’re trying to do."
Dashi will serve lunch Tues.-Fri. from 11 a.m.-3 p.m., dinner Wed.-Sat., and brunch Sat. and Sun. plus happy hour, a possible Wednesday paella night, and maybe some visiting food trucks thrown in the mix. The Rarebit's Brent Sweatman will be helping with the cocktail program, and they'll shake and stir drinks at a nifty bar that opens onto the outdoor patio via a glass half-garage door.
Booths and four-top tables will seat about 70 guests inside, while 25 or so two tops will flesh out the rest of the seating beneath a great shade tree hugging the freshly poured patio. Subway-tiled bathrooms boast the old store's exposed brick walls, and parking's a breeze. Guests will order at the counter and staff will take care of everything in between.
Coming off of the food truck model, Hines says employing the counter-service method makes things more "affordable and approachable. I think a lot of restaurants are going that direction because of staffing."
- Peep those Smart Light Colors
The theme may be disco, but is a proper Saturday night fever in the cards? "This is not on the books," laughs Hines. "But we've talked about doing a '70s dance party with the smart light colors when it's dark in here, take out the tables, drop a mirror ball down and totally have a dance party."