Georgia empire builder Hugh Acheson and executive chef Whitney Otawka are opening a Mexican restaurant, Cinco y Diez, in Athens, GA, this winter. The restaurant will be located 1563 South Lumpkin Street, in the former home of Acheson's relocated restaurant Five & Ten, and now, more plans have been released. Let's break it down:
The Background: Cinco y Diez means "five and ten" in Spanish. Five & Ten is also the name of another Hugh Acheson Athens restaurant, which recently moved from its original home on Lumpkin Street to a new space on Milledge Avenue, just down the street. Cinco y Diez will take over the Lumpkin location.
The Chefs: In addition to Five & Ten and Cinco y Diez, Hugh Acheson also has the National in Athens, helmed by Peter Dale, and Empire State South in Atlanta. And he's opening a new spot, the Florence, in Savannah next spring. He's also a Top Chef judge and a James Beard Foundation Award winner.
Whitney Otawka, a Top Chef cheftestapant, worked with Acheson at Five & Ten years ago and most recently helmed the kitchen of Athens fine dining restaurant Farm 255. Farm 255 was recently sold, and Acheson reached out to Otawka. She tells Atlanta Magazine, "I had considered moving to Atlanta but partnering with Hugh is a no-brainer. He has so much to teach me about running a business."
The Concept: The restaurant will serve locally-influenced Mexican fare and will open this winter. Executive chef Otawka says she'll be in charge of the menu and the day to day. "[Acheson] has the business mind with the restaurant experience, but the creative side of the menu will fall to me."
The Menu: Cinco y Diez will serve Mexican food with Latin and Southern regional influences. Otawka, who grew up in Southern California, wants to "bring in what I've grown up around to the place where I've grown to love cooking ... I want to change the perception of what Mexican cooking is." She plans to focus on spices and peppers, and the restaurant will serve shared plates and entrees. "I want it to be more playful than just an appetizer, an entree, and a dessert. As for specific menu items:
I operate seasonally and we'll be opening in the winter, so we'll have braised meats and tortilla soup. And fish—I love fish! Avocados will be all over the menu. I'm an avocado hound. There will be some play with the tacos but there will be more than that—more focus on the proteins, not just the quesadilla or enchilada. I also want to highlight an amazing selection of really beautiful local vegetables and build a plate around it.· Whitney Otawka Talks Athens's Cinco y Diez [Atlanta]
· Hugh Acheson to Open New Mexican Restaurant in Old 5&10 Space [-EATL-]
[Photo: Hugh Acheson]