Q&A: Frank Scibelli

In every city there's The Restaurateur -- the person whose business savvy and food expertise combine to put him at the top of the city's culinary scene.
Kim Hummel

In every city there’s The Restaurateur — the person whose business savvy and food expertise combine to put him at the top of the city’s culinary scene. Enter Charlotte’s Frank Scibelli, the owner of Big Daddy’s Burger Bar, Mama Ricotta’s, Cantina 1511, and the soon-to-open Paco’s Tacos & Tequila. We cornered him to ask about the secrets to his success, and, more importantly, the story on Paco’s.

Q So we know what a taco is, and we know what tequila is. Who is "Paco"?

A "Paco" is the nickname for Frank in Spanish. It’s a really common Spanish name, and it comes from Francisco. I thought that was sort of fun.

Q You’ve expanded the kingdom to SouthPark, in the old Manzetti’s Tavern location. Any reason for picking that spot?

A I think it’s a phenomenal location. Manzetti’s, in its heyday, was an incredibly successful restaurant. I think it gives us a lot of great business opportunities; there’s lots of retail and business nearby, so we’ll have a really great lunch, as well as a great night crowd.

Q What compelled you to take on another Mexican place? What’s going to set this apart from Cantina?

A Cantina is regional Mexican fare. Fajitas, for instance, are not a dish you see in Mexico. That is a Tex-Mex dish, like chimichangas. Even quesadillas, in America, are different from how they are in Mexico, where they’re prepared more like an empanada. Paco’s Tacos & Tequila will really be a Tex-Mex restaurant, which is a different thing. Tex-Mex is very influenced by north Mexican cuisine, with lots of beef from all the cattle. We’ll have traditionally wood-grilled meats with fresh, made-in-house tortillas, and unbelievably cold beer. Tex-Mex is a fun, festive kind of food.

Q You mentioned cold beer …

A We actually found a draft system that serves beer at exactly 29 degrees. So we’re getting that put in, and we’ll feature Texan and Mexican beers like Lone Star, Negra Modelo, and Dos Equis. We’ll have about eight to ten beers on tap.

Q Since we’re on the subject of alcohol, how many different kinds of tequila will be behind the bar?

A We’ll have about sixty tequilas. There are hundreds of tequilas, and some places will brag about having over 100, but the truth is, after you get past sixty, you’re past the best ones.

Categories: Food + Drink, Local Flavor, Restaurants & Food