Restaurateur Santiago Perez Adapts to Coronavirus Mandates in Anticipation for New L.A. Restaurant, Damian

by Magdalena Munao

While many questions remained unanswered when it comes to the effect of the pandemic on restaurant owners across the country, one restaurateur has taken time during this unexpected world event to reflect on his business as a whole.

For most restaurants, lately, the overwhelming question is, will we survive this? But for Mexico native and serial restaurant entrepreneur Santiago Perez Suarez, the coronavirus pandemic has given him fresh perspective as he continues to run his restaurants and additionally prepare for the debut of a new location in Los Angeles.

“The pandemic made us rethink our business model. Restaurants are meant to be full, both to generate enough revenue to pay expenses and to create an ambiance,” Perez says. “This has given us time to challenge assumptions we have always had about the business and to explore new opportunities.”

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This unexpected pandemic placed us all in a very delicate and stressful situation, especially the ones working in the hospitality field. During these five years, everyone behind the cook lines, bars and service at Cosme & ATLA put all of their passion and devotion into the business. Now with our doors closed and in an effort to support our team during a difficult time, we have to take actions to help them pass through this. We don’t have time to wait for the government. Our staff members need their community, friends, family and regulars to stand by them and donate. 100% of proceeds will go directly to Cosme & ATLA team members, to help them and their families weather this storm as the re-opening remains uncertain. All who contribute will be remembered and once we re-open a round of mezcal is on us. A little goes a long way, and we understand that we are all under financial strain, but we appreciate your continued support. LINK IN BIO

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In New York especially, while his flagship restaurant Cosme is still closed due to government mandates, Perez’s other New York restaurant, Atla is open for business with outdoor dining on their patio.

Offering a fresh, upscale Mexican dining experience, one thing Perez is adamant about across all of his restaurants is, dismantling stereotypes about Mexican cuisine.

Despite Mexican restaurants’ reputation for their cheap, greasy food, Perez introduces a new side of the culture—one that incorporates a high end dining experience enriched by high-quality ingredients, fresh produce and meats all infused with authentic Mexican culture.

“A lot of elements of the Mexican culture are often misinterpreted,” says Perez. “This leaves a big window of opportunity in the hospitality and restaurant space.”

Perez looks forward to another opportunity where he will be able to share a distinctively different Mexican dining experience with the debut of Damian, his first restaurant in California, nestled in the Arts District of Los Angeles. This prime location will neighbor Arts District favorite hotspots like Soho House’s Soho Warehouse as well as the esteemed Italian restaurant, Bestia.

Even with pandemic-induced restrictions on restaurant dining, Damian will offer a gorgeous outdoor dining experience via a Spanish hacienda-like patio that makes up more than half of the restaurant’s space. With capability to adapt and modify the business model in light of social distancing requirements and coronavirus mandates, Damian promises one of Los Angeles’ first high-end Mexican dining experiences. Perez looks forward to its opening in September of this year.

But above all, Perez savors the opportunity to facilitate community and culture once again, after months of isolation across the country. Though many patrons seem eager to get back to “normal” life again, yet wary of the risks of spreading the virus, Damian offers peace of mind as well as a premium dining experience.

“I believe adaptability is what counts these days,” Perez says. “ Through the pandemic, as time passed, we were able to assess different situations and really think about the values we stand for.”

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