Tequila Museo Mayahuel set for March opening

The electric whines of drills and saws coming from the corner of 12th and K streets Wednesday indicated the opening of Tequila Museo Mayahuel is still a short way off.

The sounds escaped from open doors papered in bright green with the words "Coming Soon to K Street." The restaurant and tequila bar had been expected to open by the end of 2010, and then by Feb. 1.

However, the need for electrical changes and other construction delays, as well as permitting issues, have postponed the opening to March, owner Ernesto Delgado said.

He hopes to imbue the 5,300-square-foot restaurant, bar and gift shop with a museum-like quality that highlights Mexico's culture through tequila. Born in the Mexican state of Michoacán, Delgado is using an idea inspired by the wineries around his childhood home in Napa Valley to create a unique restaurant.

"The way they showcase the wine culture is the same way I'm trying to showcase the tequila culture," the Sacramento resident said.

The restaurant is named for the Aztec goddess of the agave plant and fertility, Mayahuel. Agave is used to make tequila. A statue of a jimador – or agave plant farmer – will sit outside the entrance.

Inside, tequila bottles, art and information will be exhibited everywhere, from T-shirts and menus to the restaurant itself.

"On the ceilings, on the floors, on the walls, on the menus, on the staff," Delgado said. "When you walk in, it will feel like a museum."

He's hired most of the 40 to 50 people who will staff the establishment. Delgado will create educational programs to teach the staff about tequila and its history. To ensure they can talk knowledgeably with customers, everyone who works there will have to write essays about tequila and its culture before they can start work, he added.

Tequila Museo Mayahuel is being built at 1200 K St., on the ground floor of a parking garage leased by the Hyatt Regency Sacramento. Delgado has converted three spaces that previously held an eye wear store, Chinese restaurant and a vacant storefront into one big space.

Interior construction is complete. The urban contemporary look is set off with bold colors of terracotta, green and black.

A large U-shaped bar wraps into the main dining room and the Coa Room, named for the shovel used to harvest agave. The room has a separate entrance and can be reserved for private parties. In back, a chef's bar will seat about 12 and serve as an exhibition kitchen. The menu will offer traditional Mexican dishes featuring fresh ingredients.

On Wednesday, tradespeople were busy finishing trim work – installing solid walnut doors, light fixtures, signs and more. Cabinetry is being hand-made on-site. Three people were restaining chairs while another man built wooden tequila lockers. Customers can use those to store expensive or rare bottles of tequila for a small fee.

Two large, garage-door-like windows will open onto a large patio. Delgado is in the process of getting permits for the 20-foot by 40-foot sidewalk cafe and adjacent lounge, which may feature an outdoor bar and fireplace, and for a small gift shop that will sell tequila.

The establishment's liquor license is expected to be finalized in late February. A new exterior façade, patio and gift shop are expected to open in a second phase after plans are approved, he said.

The management team includes Delgado, chef Ramiro Alarcon, Manager Javier Valdez and Kitchen Manager Mario Favila. The contractor, Charles Espinoza, has overseen construction.

The hours will be 11 a.m. – 11 p.m. Monday through Wednesday, 11 a.m. – 3 a.m. Thursday and Friday, 9 a.m. – 3 a.m. Saturday, and 9 a.m. – 3 p.m. for Sunday brunch.

Tequila Museo Mayahuel will emphasize "sipping and enjoying" tequilas and artisan cocktails.

Delgado said he initially wanted to serve 50 to 100 tequilas. But he's decided to offer fewer tequilas – both on a drink menu and at the gift shop – to help build an understanding and appreciation on a quintessentially Mexican product.

"I'd really like to focus on tequila families that have created the history and culture of tequila," he said. 

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February 3, 2011 | 8:25 AM

Thumbs up!

February 3, 2011 | 11:15 AM

Alright!!! I can’t wait for the place to open. Finally some development on K Street that gets me excited. I admit that my reaction has been “Meh…” to other recent development on K street (Dive Bar, Pizza Rock, Cosmo, etc.) They seemed a bit gimmicky and/or tired. But this one has me excited.

I think my excitement is, at least in part, due to the excellent writing in this article. The author captured a sense of excitement about the place and communicated the owner’s passion and commitment. It was a very refreshing read much like I imagine a shot of his fine tequila will be when I belly up to the bar on opening day!

February 3, 2011 | 12:34 PM

I like the fact that they have already posted the menu for the restaurant–which talks about the role of the item in Mexican food culture. This concept seems to have some depth to it, not just flash, and the prices seem pretty reasonable too.

February 3, 2011 | 3:43 PM

Where is the menu posted?

February 3, 2011 | 4:34 PM

I think it’s posted at the site at 1200 K St

February 3, 2011 | 6:42 PM

Sacramento is already saturated with mexican restaurants. Sorry, but I predict another failure here within 18 months. But at least the owner will be quite well positioned to take up drinking tequila afterwards to ease the pain

February 4, 2011 | 11:45 AM

I’m still looking for one as good as La Familia Taqueria in Roseville.

February 6, 2011 | 11:34 AM

Brandon: Try Lalo’s Kitchen. Your tongue will write you a thank-you note.

AG: Downtown doesn’t have a whole lot of Mexican restaurants right now. There is one at 7th and K at the other end of the pedestrian mall, and a couple of inexpensive lunchtime taquerias at 5th and 9th on K. But that’s about it in the central business district, until you hit 524 or Vallejo’s which are out of the CBD proper, or Ernesto’s and Zocalo in Midtown. And the idea here is to capture the downtown market: 100,000 or so hungry state workers during the day, and a growing number of club-crawlers at night. It also sounds like they are going for more of a sit-down crowd (with a ttakeout window for the lunch and grab & go crowd) and the added twist of a bit of culture.

Sure, there are plenty of great cheap Mexican restaurants in south Sacramento (Lalo’s being one) but it you’re downtown there aren’t that many options at that price point, and if you’re already on K Street and hungry, are you going to drive to Stockton Boulevard, or walk a few blocks?

February 8, 2011 | 9:40 AM

I personally know Ernesto, and can assure you that he approaches EVERY venture in a first-class manner. I wish him well with this one also. Looking at the pics has me excited to visit the space, even though my interest in tequila is limited. I admire his new take on food, drink and culture. Way to go, Ernesto!

February 11, 2011 | 12:56 PM

Don’t forget the steady stream of Convention Center / hotel visitors and their likely proximity preferences plus the reliable quantities of Community Center pre and post show crowds! And is this the same Ernesto of S & 16th? And there’s serving til 3am on Thurs, Fri and Saturday nights! 3 am…

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