The fast-casual Mexican restaurant that will join Postino in downtown Gilbert doesn’t have a name yet, but there is a target date for its opening: March 1.
The group opened its third Postino on the northwest corner of Gilbert and Page roads in August. So far, it has exceeded all expectations. ”It’s our hottest store in terms of sales per square foot,” DeMarco says.
Ironically, Upwards Projects turned down the 6,000-square-foot building, formerly GrainBelt Grillhouse, a half-dozen times because they felt it was too big. Eventually the owner agreed to lease them just 2,500 square feet, leaving 3,500 for another restaurant.
That restaurant was supposed to be a spinoff of Phoenix’s Barrio Cafe, but those plans fell through when chef/owner Silvana Salcido Esparza opened a spinoff in Old Town Scottsdale instead.
Given the response to Postino so far,Upwards Projects grabbed the available space and, after surveying neighborhood residents, decided to open a Mexican restaurant.
“Overwhelmingly, they want Mexican, DeMarco says. “But we don’t want to do traditional Mexican. There’s plenty of that here in the Valley. We want to come up with something new in fast-casual Mexican. Since Chipotle, there hasn’t been anything new in that category in a while.”
DeMarco, who already had been talking about a possible third concept in Gilbert’s downtown historical district, now is considering a cluster of four or five (similar to Upwards Projects’ five-concept cluster at Central and Camelback in Phoenix).
“We’re very excited about the East Valley,” he says.