When chef Jon Cervantes opened his restaurant Sconos in the Village of Arroyo Grande in early July, he wasn’t expecting some of the locals to be quite so ... difficult.
“We’re struggling just to keep all the roosters out of the restaurant,” Cervantes joked Thursday.
Roosters aside, Cervantes said business at the new Italian tapas restaurant, located at 116 Branch St. in the former Comfort Market location, is going well so far. (Comfort Market, which previously occupied the space, closed a few months ago).
They had their soft opening during the first week in July, serving just dinner. On Wednesday, the eatery began offering lunch as well. On average, Sconos has served 50 to 60 people per night.
The restaurant is Cervantes’ first solo effort as a chef.
Hailing from Los Angeles and the Orange County area, he’s worked at more than 40 restaurants in Southern California, where he honed his skills and developed a love for small plates and Italian cuisine.
“I think it’s fun,” Cervantes said of tapas-style eating. “I enjoy eating in a shared-food way. ... When I go out, I like to eat a bunch of different foods. I’m a chef — I love to eat.”
The opportunity to open a restaurant on the Central Coast appealed to Cervantes, a lifetime city resident, he said.
“I realized I wasn’t the metropolitan guy,” he said. “I wanted something a little more slowed down. And if you’re going to start with fantastic fresh ingredients, you can’t really get better than SLO County.”
While the Sconos menu is still developing, Cervantes said there are some dishes that will likely stay on the menu permanently.
“People are really enjoying the meatballs,” he said. “Which makes sense, I think. Who doesn’t love a good meatball?”
Cervantes is particularly proud of his pasta. It’s made fresh in house using hand-kneaded dough. In many cases, the noodles are even hand cut.
“There’s a tremendous amount to be explored in that one facet of the menu,” he said. “There’s a craft to that that I enjoy really specifically.”
Prices range from $6 for local sourdough bread with garlic confit to $21 for sirloin steak with spring chutney and oyster mushrooms. On average, Cervantes said diners could expect to spend roughly $30 per person, depending on if they like to share their food or prefer to have entrees to themselves.
Sconos is currently open Monday through Sunday for lunch, and Tuesday through Sunday for dinner. Cervantes said he also hopes to roll out Sunday brunch offerings in the near future.
He wants Arroyo Grande residents to know he’s in town for the long haul.
“It’s our goal to be a part of the community,” he said. “I’m not looking to be some guy from L.A. trying to make a name for himself — I’m wanting to be a part of the Central Coast.”