When Americado opened in March at the corner of Eighth Avenue and Berry Street, most people’s mouths were watering at the mention of chilangos, ceviche and agua fresca, but we were drooling over concrete tile, geometric patterns and midcentury modern stools. That’s because Dallas-based Coevál Studio is behind the design of this Mexico City-inspired market. It’s always pleasing to spot a Coevál space. The team is behind numerous well-designed restaurants, including Stirr, Dos Jeffes and El Bolera in Dallas; and Cork & Pig in Fort Worth. But they are also the brains behind the concepts. The aforementioned success of these restaurants is in large part thanks to Coevál. The company is not just a design team. Owners and Creative Directors John Paul Valverde and Miguel Vicens work with restaurant owners to plan everything from concept to design and branding. That includes designing spaces, menus, logos, websites and uniforms; developing the way the restaurant will operate (counter service versus wait service); and considering the function in the build-out.
A brief dive into Vicens’ and Valverde’s past reveals their influences. Vicens has been in Dallas for 17 years by way of Puerto Rico, and Valverde was born in Los Angeles and raised in Dallas by parents from Mexico City and Chihuahua, Mexico.
Miguel Vicens and John Paul Valverde are the Coevál Studio owners and co-founders.
Valverde began a real estate career at 20, specializing in boutique real estate before transitioning into multifamily and commercial development real estate projects. In 2000, he founded Coevál Real Estate, where he utilized his marketing instincts.
Vicéns got his Bachelor of Arts in environmental design from the University of Puerto Rico before obtaining his Master of Architecture from The School of Design at Arizona State University. He then moved to Dallas and began working on various international hospitality projects in Puerto Rico, Mexico, Costa Rica, El Salvador and The Cayman Islands.
After the real estate crash in 2007, Valverde and Vicens joined forces to found Coevál Studio. They have quickly become known for flawless design and successful projects. Since founding Coevál Studio, they have designed some of the most profitable restaurants in Texas, including Dallas’ Happiest Hour, The Rustic and Citizen.
Coevál has repeatedly proven through its projects that a casual space can still be a well-designed space, and Americado is no exception. The restaurant is inspired by Mexico City markets, bars and taco stands. Customers can order from different stations, including a “fisheria” for ceviche, “chilango” for street tacos and “chic chicken” for chicken. Refreshments and cocktails are offered at “El Bar” and “La Juicieria” serves coffee and agua fresca (Mexican flavored water). The experience is 90 percent counter service, but customers can also order additional items through a wait staff.
Vibrant geometric patterns are evident the moment you walk through Americado’s doors. Coevál outfitted the 3,300-square-foot restaurant with concrete floor tiles in shades of ivory, grey, black and yellow. It both fights with and complements the similarly patterned vinyl wallpaper in shades of greens and pinks. A collage of papers and posters are displayed on the back wall via wheatpaste, while other walls are dominated by subway tile and the Americado logo – an octopus.
“The geometric patterns are very Mexico City. We wanted to do something that could go from lunch to dinner and stay vibrant,” said Valverde.
Surrounded by glass garage doors, Americado easily transitions from indoor to outdoor – it’s a restaurant trend that cannot and should not be ignored. A patio, outfitted with picnic tables, flanks the east side of the modern building and offers unexpected hues of aqua. A large adjacent grassy area is already attracting energy-filled children. Bartenders stand behind a counter ready to take drink orders. The bar is made of poured concrete with charcoal pigments mixed in. Barstools designed and produced out of Mexico City sit ready for patrons to order cocktails.
Good news for diners who like both the food and the design of Americado, the Fort Worth owners behind the restaurant plan to open another concept on Magnolia Avenue in the former The Barber Shop location this year. “La Zona was created while thinking back on some fun experiences in Madrid,” said the Coevál team. Spanish for “the plaza,” it’s modeled after Spanish plaza courtyards where the community gathers to eat and spend time with friends outdoors. La Zona will be the name of the space, while Hotel Madrid will be the concept serving hand-rolled pizza, cocktails and beer. St. Sofia will focus on sweets like homemade churros, ice cream sandwiches and coffee.
La Zona has tagged Coevál Studio to bring it to life. Coevál is also the design team for Taste, the new pay-what-you-can restaurant from nonprofit The Taste Project, scheduled to open at 1200 S. Main St. in August.
photography by Alex Lepe