Restaurateur Christian Burns decided to try something different with his fifth eatery: Mexican food.
That may not seem all that unusual; Norwalk, where his Evarito’s Mexican Kitchen and Bar recently opened, is home to a plethora of such restaurants. But Burns is promising a modern twist on Mexican and Tex-Mex cuisine, along with an impressively rich décor that includes an outdoor patio, open kitchen, “grand tequila bar” and soon a rooftop bar with views of the Long Island Sound.
“I wanted to do something different in South Norwalk, which has really grown over the past few years,” said Burns, whose SKAL Restaurant Group also operates The Ginger Man in Greenwich and three Cask Republic restaurants in New Haven, Stamford and near Evarito’s 14-16 Main St. location in SoNo.
“I spent a lot of years in Texas when I was in college, working in different restaurants and bars down there, and I fell in love with Tex-Mex,” Burns said. “I also took some trips to Mexico and fell in love with it. I’ve wanted to do something like this for years and felt the time was finally right.”
He said the cuisine at Evarito’s will be different from the “so-called Tex-Mex” available at other dining spots, with an emphasis both on authentic recipes and unique dishes like “Mayan Pork Rib” and “Steak Vampiro” alongside the expected array of tacos, enchiladas and fajitas.
The restaurant — its name is the moniker he and his wife gave to their son, Everett — also features a “grand tequila bar,” which specializes in a variety of margaritas as well as other drinks.
“The bar itself is pretty grand,” Burns said. “It’s 30 feet long, backed by a really tall, beautiful mirror — it really carries the room.”
For all its high-end trappings, he emphasized that his newest restaurant “is here for everyone. People can come in after work for a drink, a couple of tacos and a quick margarita, or they can have the full dining experience and make a full evening of it.”
Burns also credited Patriot Bank, headquartered in Stamford, with helping make Evarito’s a reality. “They’ve truly been amazing,” he said of the bank, which has worked with SKAL for nearly 10 years. “They made the financing process — not ‘simple,’ but easier for us to work with them so that we could focus mainly on the business.”
“There’s a level of confidence we have with Christian, having worked with him so much in the past,” Patriot Bank President Richard Muskus Jr. said. “Unless you can leverage off the success of another restaurant, a restaurant is not necessarily attractive to a bank in terms of securing a loan. With (something like SKAL), you can afford the short-term losses that come with opening a restaurant via your other restaurants.”
Muskus also credited Burns with knowing “how to create an ambience. He pays a lot of attention to detail to make it stand out. And he has a loyal customer base (through his other eateries) — it’s something he relies on. He can get people to try something different and make sure they’ll come back.”
“Christian came to us about a year ago,” said Jennifer Cutrali, a Patriot Bank vice president and director of portfolio management. “What attracted us was not only his past experience with us, but also that he was looking to get outside of the pub-style model that he has at his other restaurants — its focus is on authentic Mexican food. And his success with his other restaurants fit into what we look for, so our approval process was pretty straightforward.”