What to Expect at El Segundo, Cameron Mitchell’s Forthcoming Mexican Restaurant
Cameron Mitchell Restaurants’ first Mexican concept is set to open Aug. 31 in the former Harvey & Ed’s space in the Short North.
In some ways, Cameron Mitchell’s colorful new restaurant opening on Aug. 31 in the Short North is about second chances.
Dubbed El Segundo—meaning “the second”—CMR’s first-ever Mexican restaurant is actually the company’s second swat at success at 698 N. High St. CMR’s first attempt in the 4,100-square-foot space, Harvey & Ed’s, was a short-lived delicatessen concept that attempted to fill the beloved Rigsby’s Kitchen space. The deli, which was named after CMR president and Chief Operating Officer (COO) David Miller’s uncle and father, made multiple attempts to connect with customers through menu changes but never found its footing during the dinner hours, Miller says.
CMR is never short on ideas, though, as a look up and down High Street can affirm; CMR’s Short North establishments will total seven once El Segundo opens. Having already covered Italian, Pan-Asian, Steakhouse, farm-to-table and California fare, Miller says CMR has been batting around ideas for a Mexican concept for some time. In fact, a Mexican restaurant was originally planned for the Short North’s Del Mar SoCal space until several CMR executives took a trip to California and came back with ideas that birthed Del Mar.
Mexican food is a thriving, competitive area of cuisine in Columbus. The city is rich with taco trucks, immigrant-owned mom-and-pop restaurants, Mexican groceries and trendy taco chains like Condado, Bakersfield and Barrio. Why, then, did CMR feel like Columbus needed El Segundo? Miller says he believes the restaurant, with its lively décor, tequila-focused bar program and CMR-trained staff, fills an upmarket niche in the city. (I would argue that it’s attempting to take up the mantle of Mexican-themed spots like Cosecha Cocina (formerly in Italian Village) or the bygone Abuelo’s at Easton.)
"They're all great in their own right, and they've got their own brand and their own niche and that's the way we're taking the approach. We have our own brand, our own niche. I just go back to the physical [space], and you walk in here and your eyes just kind of go wide open,” Miller says. “Culinarily, our chef team has done a fabulous job creating an incredible menu that is very diverse and well thought out.”
From a food standpoint, El Segundo will offer starters such as esquites (Mexican street corn) and barbacoa tamales as well as tacos, burritos and entrees such as fajitas and carne asada. House-made desserts, often a strength at CMR-owned restaurants, include churro doughnuts, tres leches and flan. On the bar side, customers will find a generous margarita selection, craft cocktails and about a hundred different tequilas, including one handpicked by CMR, a double-barrel añejo tequila from Hacienda Herradura in Jalisco, Mexico.
Past visitors to Harvey & Ed’s will hardly recognize the renovated dining room and bar, which incorporates darker wood features, more art and certainly more pops of color (lime green to be exact). Harvey & Ed’s deli cases have been ripped out, and the kitchen now features new equipment like a spit for tacos al pastor and a press for house-made tortillas. The dining room features Day of the Dead murals by local artists, alebrijes (Mexican folk art sculptures) on the walls, colorful textiles, bright lime green seating and sombreros suspended from the ceiling. Understated it is not.
"The art component of this brand...I mean, it's a piece of art. You see the murals all over ... it really felt [like] the Short North Arts District," Miller says, adding that he thinks El Segundo will appeal to the neighborhood’s demographic. "Tequila and tequila bars are definitely very well received. The clientele in the Short North is ... skewed a little bit younger. And I think this style of cocktail menu and this style of cuisine is going to serve the clientele here very well."
Leading the El Segundo team will be executive chef Geoff Baumberger and general manager Jessica Stull. The restaurant’s grand opening is set for Tuesday, Aug. 31, and it will be open six nights a week to start (closed on Mondays); Miller says CMR plans to add brunch at a later date. “We’ll probably start that in a month or so, but I want to get dinner open first,” he says. “With football season on the horizon here, we certainly want to get brunch open as soon as we can but do it right. That's the only way to do it.”