Nicola Pastore, whom everyone calls Andrea, and his wife, Miriam, were having dinner with friends at Txokos Basque Kitchen at East End Market with friends not long ago. “We liked the concept, the market; everything was nice,” he said. A couple of weeks later he learned that the restaurant was for sale. As of September 23, the Pastores are the owners of Txokos. “We love the place,” he told me.
Txokos, of course, was the first inland project of restaurateurs Henry and Michele Salgado. It was much anticipated as the only full-service restaurant that would be part of the then-new East End Market in Audubon Park, and it opened in spring of 2014 to generally rave reviews. Rumors had been circulating for some time that the Salgados wanted to sell the restaurant in order to focus on their successful New Smyrna Beach concept, Spanish River Grille. According to Michele Salgado, the Pastores’ offer and the closing of the sale all happened very quickly. They have moved back to NSB and turned over the keys of Txokos to Pastore.
“Our intention is to keep it the same concept,” Pastore said. “Maybe some adjustment on the menu, but for now it’s too early to say ‘I want to do this, I want to do that.’”
This is the second restaurant for the Pastores in Orlando, and they bought the first one in pretty much the same way. They visited 903 Mills Market in the Lake Davis neighborhood, liked it and made an offer.
That was in December of 2009. At that time, it was Pastore’s intention to turn 903 into an Italian restaurant, such as he has owned in his native Rome. He had only recently moved to Orlando from Europe. “When we came in five years ago, we didn’t know anything.”
Instead of changing the entire concept of the popular corner cafe with almost all of its seating outside, the Pastores contented themselves with making changes with the food. “before everything was already cooked,” he said of the previous menu, “now everything is cooked from scratch. Before, the salad was packaged and now it’s fresh.”
But it’s not Italian, except, he says, for some of the soups. “When I will do Italian restaurant, I want to build a 100 percent Italian restaurant.”
Might he change Txokos to be the Italian restaurant he wants?
“I don’t think so,” he said, after a pause, “because the people like this concept, they like the food at Txokos — I don’t think that’s a good idea for now.”
Obviously, there will be someone knew at the kitchen’s helm, and Pastore said he is currently interviewing candidates. So one way or another, change is sure to come to Txokos.
As for the Salgados, expect an announcement on their plans in New Smyrna Beach soon.