RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — A new brunch spot is opening in The Fan next month and the man behind it, Mario Alvanes, says he is bringing the same energy he brought to his first restaurant, El Pope, down the street.
Mario Alvanes spoke with 8News about his vision for his latest restaurant venture, The Nest Brunch Cafe.
In the entryway of The Nest, located at 1825 W. Main St., is a bar that Alvanes said he built himself using materials left behind by the previous business.
“That’s why it’s called ‘The Nest,'” he explained.
The restaurant will offer an American-style classic brunch, according to Alvanes, featuring chicken and waffles, pancakes and even some burgers. He also plans to make his own bacon using a rotisserie machine used for al pastor.
“We’ll use pork belly to make it sweet and crispy,” Alvanes said.
Alvanes moved from El Salvador to the United States in 1999. He told 8News that he was originally based in California, working odd jobs while he studied at a small cooking school.
In 2001, Alvanes moved to Richmond and started working in the food industry.
“I was working at Olive Garden,” Alvanes chuckled.
Eventually, he worked his way up, opening his own restaurant, El Pope, in 2017. The restaurant grew in popularity for its mix of Salvadoran and Mexican cuisine and continues to operate today.
When the landlord of the El Pope property approached Alvanes with the opportunity to open another restaurant down the street, Alvanes said he was excited to try it.
“I got a good chance,” Alvanes said. “Why not? I’m going to give it a try.”
Alvanes said he was looking forward to opening another space in The Fan neighborhood because of his already positive relationship with the community.
“Everyone who lives here has been really nice to me,” Alvanes said. “Everyone who comes into my other place and everyone who put in beautiful reviews.”
Alvanes explained that the proximity between the two locations is partially what inspired the shift in cuisine.
“I believe people should try everything,” Alvanes said. “If people try everything in the new restaurant, people will like it too.”
When asked why he chose American-style brunch for The Nest, Alvanes said it was the obvious choice for him.
“Everybody loves it,” Alvanes said. “It’s easy to cook and it’s inexpensive…I want to make it the best place I can, no matter what I cook.”
Alvanes said he wants to preserve the spirit of El Pope, but channel that energy into something entirely new.
“It’s different food but, in the end, it’s consistent all the time,” he said.
To begin with, the Nest will be partially staffed by workers from El Pope, including Alvanes, as he works to fill all positions.
Alvanes said his plans for the open hours of The Nest are as follows:
- Monday through Thursday from 8:30 a.m. until 4 p.m.
- Friday and Saturday from 9 a.m. until 9 p.m.
- Sunday from 9 a.m. until 3 p.m.
Alvanes told 8News he plans to open The Nest in two or three weeks’ time.