Chef and restaurateur Chad White, Hello Sugar owners Ramsey and Amy Pruchnic and TT’s Old Iron Brewery and BBQ co-owner Travis Thosath are opening a taco shop, Uno Mas, in the former location of Hello Sugar in Spokane Valley with a target start date of mid-March.
White, whose Chad White Hospitality Group includes Zona Blanca, two High Tide Lobster Bar locations and TT’s, grew up in the Valley, and Thosath and the Pruchnics also grew up and still reside in the Valley, and they are excited about bringing their tacos to their neighborhood they affectionately call “SoVal” for South Valley.
White answered questions over the weekend, then early Monday afternoon with Thosath and Ramsey Pruchnic at the future site of Uno Mas at 11205 E. Dishman Mica Road:
Why open Uno Mas now during a pandemic?
White: The opportunity was ripe for the taking. Ramsey and Amy, the founders of Hello Sugar, approached Travis and me. We toured the space, and I felt it was a great fit for us. During these unprecedented times, more and more of our guests are looking for convenience along with quality. We aim to provide both.
Thosath: I’m looking forward to being part of this neighborhood even more and bringing something that isn’t around this area that will be as equally in high demand as barbecue. It’s going to be great, and having our businesses tied together is pretty cool.
This town loves their tacos, and this community in the Valley is really great.
Pruchnic: This was our Hello Sugar space, and we recently exited strategically. When we first opened in Kendall Yards, we shared the space with Indaba and recently took over the entire space. With the challenges of hiring and other moving parts, we love this neighborhood and space and believe in this area, but it didn’t need to be a third Hello Sugar anymore.
This is our first restaurant partnership in Spokane outside Hello Sugar, although I’ve known Chad a long time and have worked with him at TT’s. This is a new brand, and everyone is bringing strengths and experience to the table.
It doesn’t make you nervous to open during a pandemic?
White: There’s always a risk, pandemic or not. Nerves are just part of the process. We see this as an opportunity to provide more options for those living and working in the South Valley.
Thosath: No. I think we’re at the point where I feel good about the future.
Pruchnic: Part of the reason we’re not nervous about the pandemic is we all figured out how to get through the pandemic. We all survived, so now we’re taking all the survivors and doing something new. We want to offer a great product and have stability.
Why the location in Spokane Valley in the former Hello Sugar?
White: I’m always asked why I don’t bring more to the Valley. This location not only provides the opportunity to do so, but it’s also currently the only eatery with a drive-thru south of Sprague in the Spokane Valley.
The location makes it convenient to use the barbecue from nearby TT’s, correct?
White: Yes, our plan is to use TT’s as a commissary kitchen on the days TT’s is closed. This will allow us to develop a Mexican campestre, or country, style flavor for our meats by using our smokers.
What can Uno Mas customers expect?
White: A choice of tacos, burritos and bowls. Agua frescas, TT’s beers and eventually margaritas and cocktails. It’ll be a fun take on tacos that people aren’t used to eating.
Where did you come up with the name Uno Mas?
White: This was a group effort. We thought one taco is never enough, so how about Uno Mas, which translates to “one more.” It’s fun to say, easy to pronounce, and most non-Spanish speakers know what it means.
How will Uno Mas stand out?
White: Like all of our concepts, we will offer culturally rich flavors and nothing but the best food quality possible. Expect an array of traditional salsas, smoked beef tallow flour tortillas, tacos de carnitas, barbacoa, lengua and pollo all smoked at TT’s – and of course a fun vibe.
Thosath: The quality of the tacos and the twist of TT’s as part of it. It’s going to be top-notch, and we’ll transform this space into a fun location for Uno Mas.
Pruchnic: When I go into TT’s and Chad’s other restaurants, it’s not only a great food experience but also a great customer experience. They have an enjoyable experience from the moment they walk in the door to when they eat their meal. I’m really excited about that for Uno Mas.
How are TT’s, Zona Blanca and your two locations of High Tide doing?
White: Across the board, it’s been challenging. Like many of us in the hospitality industry, we didn’t expect this pandemic to come. It has forced us to make important changes to run our businesses leaner and meaner.
The current season, however, has been more difficult than predicted. With supply chain issues and inflation on many of our proteins and disposable supplies, it makes thin margins even thinner.
Operations at High Tide in the Numerica Building have been paused due to lack of foot traffic, staff shortage and high lobster costs. High Tide’s second location in the Wonder Building has remained open since the first mandated shutdown was lifted in 2020.
High Tide has seen it the most with lobster and crab prices quadrupling in wholesale costs, increasing them by over $400 a case. This has forced us to increase our prices and made a once bi-monthly splurge for consumers now unaffordable. If those specific costs don’t reduce soon, I may have to re-concept and bring back High Tide at a later time when costs are reduced.
TT’s like all barbecue joints has been hit hard with soaring meat costs, especially brisket. The brewery side of things hasn’t been immune, either, as aluminum and supply costs skyrocketed in 2021. That being said, we have been fortunate with the increased takeout orders and catering business, weekly specials that sell out and the undivided attention of SoVal community support.
Zona Blanca shares the hurt differently … however, our new location in 2021 on Howard Street has already proved much promise in comparison to when we were six blocks west on Madison. With special weekly events and being recognized for our seafood quality and mentioned as a top 12 bucket list restaurant in Washington in 2022, we’re headed in a positive direction.
Additionally, with Chris and Ivy Batten’s contribution to our newly renovated patio bar, a gorgeous mural by local artists Susan Weber and Shelby Allison, as well as a large fireplace installed by Falco’s, we look forward to a thriving patio season for years to come.
What are you looking forward to most in opening Uno Mas?
Thosath: The buzz in the neighborhood again and fun and getting people’s feedback and excitement. They’re so loyal, and I’m excited to share this new spot with them. The neighborhood vibe here is great.
Pruchnic: Hello Sugar opened a few weeks after TT’s opened. When we all opened, as Travis said, there was this energy in the neighborhood and South Valley. I’m excited to launch something to bring that energy back and see a ton of new faces and introduce Spokane to another new concept. The Valley is our community. We’re building SoVal.
White: And when is one taco ever enough?!
Uno Mas is on Instagram @UnoMasTacoShop and plans to launch its website this week.