I cannot wait for Sunday—and not just because I need more fantasy points (insert sad face here). Mexican Independence Day (or El Grito) is this Sunday, Sept. 16, and Doug Guller has given me yet another reason to get pumped. Guller is well known for his businesses, such as the ownership of ‘breastaurant’ Bikinis, music venue The Parish and the town of Bankersmith, Texas (insert puzzled face here). But most recently, Guller opened Pelóns—a Tex-Mex restaurant in the Red River district. The grand opening is this Sunday and guess what: If you’re anything like me, you’ll be curing your hangover with $1 tacos, $2 beers and $3 margs. ¡Viva!
Guller has been in the restaurant industry since he was about 12 years old. Young Guller went through the classic stages of manhood, you know: from dishwasher to busboy to server to bartender. He started his first company, similar to the 1-800-FLOWERS concept—but with pizza, his favorite food—in the late ‘90s in Chicago. In 2005, he started toying with the idea of opening up a sports bar. He wanted to mix the concepts of good food, sports and entertainment and came up with Bikinis. Austin was one of the potential cities he visited to open the business, and he knew he found the perfect place, one that would not only be home to the restaurant, but to him as well.
It’s been years since the first Bikinis opened, and with the closing of the legendary Jaime’s Spanish Village on Red River, Guller felt the need to pay homage and open a new Tex-Mex restaurant for the community. “The sports bar does not appeal to every person in Austin,” says Guller. “Whereas I feel like Pelóns could and should. You could be at The Mohawk down the street in a mosh pit with your best friend and need a great place to go eat before or after a show. Or you could be across the street at Stubb’s or have your grandmother’s 80th birthday party at Pelóns.”
Guller says the district itself is a huge asset to the restaurant, and vice versa. “Red River is such a unique street, it has history with music and a pretty wide selection of music,” says Guller. “And we just wanted to give it a restaurant that has flair and is a little edgy, that fits into the Red River scene. You just want to hang out there for hours, have drinks with friends and just watch the Red River district go by.”
Pelóns will be in good company, along with sister Bar 508 and the Zorro food trailer. Guller’s business savvy and passion for good food has pushed him through the years to bring out the best in Austin and give back to the city. Pelóns is just another adventure. “We’re also building a rooftop patio on top of Pelóns,” he says excitedly. “I think it’s something that doesn’t exist in today’s Austin scene, where you have everything in one property: a restaurant, a massive courtyard and a whole other bar, which we jokingly call ‘the compound’ and even a food trailer. It has a lot of moving pieces,” says Guller. “And me and my team, we think it brings together some of the best of what Austin has to offer.”
And if there’s something Austinites like, it’s chips, tacos and cheap margaritas. Now I don’t know if I said this yet, but the entrance on Sunday is free, guys. Get ready for some Mexican awesomeness.
All photos by Mari Hernandez.