The Cordish Co. has hired Port Fonda's chef-owner Patrick Ryan to serve as an adviser and consultant for the renovation and rebranding of Tengo Sed Cantina, the Mexican-inspired saloon at 1323 Walnut in the Power & Light District. The space is scheduled to reopen April 28 with a new menu designed by Ryan, a new cocktail bar with freshly squeezed juices and premium tequilas, and a renovated interior.
Ryan says the new menu will not be like Port Fonda's. And although the Power & Light District is extolling his relationship with Tengo Sed Cantina as "a collaborative partnership," Ryan stresses that he is not taking over the operation of the venue and that his role is as adviser and consultant.
"It's not unlike the role that Ryan Maybee has with the Kill Devil Club," says Ryan, who was recently nominated "Best New Chef Midwest" by Food & Wine magazine.
Ryan says he had been to Tengo Sed Cantina in its previous incarnation but had never eaten there. "I don't think the primary focus had been on the food at that time," he says.
Ryan says he was interested in the project for several reasons.
"When the Power & Light District opened, it had zero local flavor," Ryan says. "I believe Cordish is now trying to bring in some restaurant people with some local success and positive press to rebrand its operations."
The press release issued by the Power & Light District describes Ryan's menu for Tengo Sed Cantina as "a lighter, fresher take on classic Mexican food focusing on coastal cuisine from the Baja region and southern California."
"I'm trying to help bring a new focus and direction to the food served at Tengo Sed Cantina," Ryan says. "My feeling is that the food had been, in the past, a low priority there. That's going to change. I feel that I know what the patrons of the district will want to eat there."
Rachel Waller, director of marketing for the Power & Light District, confirms that the interior of Tengo Sed Cantina has been completely gutted - including the stripper poles - to make way for a fresh new interior design, new furniture and a garage door facing Walnut Street that can be raised during warm weather.
"It will be a completely different venue when it opens," Waller says.