By now, Kevin Cornwell had hoped to be serving paninis, pizza and pasta at his new downtown Tacoma eatery, Cafe Vincero. But he ran into a problem, then another, and another. The problems centered around the footprint of his restaurant. The design needed adjusting to meet fire and safety codes.
One requirement was particularly pesky. He’d have to shrink the square footage of his dining space to meet occupancy standards. What to do with all that empty space that formerly was to be seating? Cornwell’s solution – a wine cellar.
Originally, he had intended to open his restaurant without a liquor license. He had aimed to serve food through early morning hours and worried that liquor board rules would not be friendly to that idea. What he’s found, however, is that a lock on his wine cellar may be all he needs to comply with liquor laws and late-night dining. He just applied for the permit. Said Cornwell, “The more people I talked to, the more the response was, ‘No wine? Bummer.’” He said this solution will be more appealing to diners and he also thought it would round out the concept of Cafe Vincero, which started out as an idea for a coffee shop and has grown into an Italian eatery with a wood-fired oven.
Right now, he’s building the wine cellar, adding a bathroom to meet the code rules and has to install the kitchen’s venting hood. He’s guessing on a late August opening, perhaps early September.
This is the first restaurant for Cornwell, who is opening Cafe Vincero with his father, Ed Banks, and childhood friend Scott Raketty, who will act as a consulting chef. Cafe Vincero will operate at 714 Pacific Avenue on a block that is home to Matador, Meconi’s and the Orange Door Vietnamese restaurant.
Cornwell said he plans a restaurant that will serve coffee in the morning followed by lunch and dinner service. As originally planned, he’ll serve dinner late into the weekend evenings. His wine list will feature Italian wines, and he’ll also have a short list of bottled beer.
The menu will center mostly on pastas, pizzas, sandwiches and calzones. He expects menu prices to float around $9-$12 for a la carte pizzas and pasta entrees. He’ll round out the menu with a few broiled steaks at a higher price.
Where: 714 Pacific Ave., Tacoma
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