It’s difficult to miss, with its multicolored flags strung across the patio and the portrait of a traditional Mexican woman on the sign. Nana’s on Queen Anne (1825 Queen Anne Ave. N.) opened last month on Aug. 6.
The restaurant is an homage to owner Eladio Preciado’s mother’s recipes and named after his sister Nana. Preciado, who has been an entrepreneur for years, has been playing with the idea of opening the restaurant for about three years. About six months ago, the Magnolia resident found the former Emmer & Rye location on Queen Anne,which which fit his bill of a warm and inviting space.
“[Nana’s] has different meaning, a personal attachment to me,” he said. “I want it to succeed for my family.”
Preciado’s sister Nana will move from her home in Vancouver, Wash., soon to become the face of the company and connect with local churches and community groups.
Like back home
The kitchen is staffed by about five people, all of whom have experience in the industry. Preciado said he tastes everything in the kitchen every day and tries to source ingredients locally when he can. His mother calls nearly every day and has even taken to filming herself making recipes at home, so the kitchen staff can recreate them.
For the dining room, Preciado hired a “melting pot” of wait staff who could relate to the guests. But the garb is still traditional Mexican: The men wear traditional wedding shirts, and the women wear floral-embroidered dresses.
Preciado took the neutral-toned building and filled it with color and art. He really wanted the space to feel like a restaurant in a resort town in Mexico.
“The whole idea is to take you way from Seattle for a little bit,” he said.
In the main dining area, there’s a big mixed-media mural of his sister, which includes painting, stenciling, metal and photos to make the area feel textured. The walls are covered in Mexican-inspired art, some local and some from Mexico. Even the bathroom has quirky, religious-inspired decor.
Preciado did the tile work himself, with tiles from Mexico, and a few of the doors are covered in milagros (Mexican good-luck charms).
“I wanted to make the artwork reflect old culture but feel new,” he said.
Preciado’s parents had their own restaurant before, but as they aged, it became less realistic for them to continue working. But his mother’s recipes are getting a new life at Nana’s. Preciado’s mother has inspired all of the recipes and has come to the restaurant to train the staff on how to cook the food.
When Nana’s first opened, it started with a slimmed-down version of the menu, to make things easier on the kitchen and wait staff, Preciado said. Some customers weren’t happy that they didn’t see their favorite dish on the menu, and early online reviews reflected that. But, now, the menu has been completely rolled out, and Nana’s has started to have a lunch menu. Preciado also hopes to roll out a breakfast menu that combines traditional Mexican and American breakfast dishes.
When Preciado saw negative reviews, he strived to rectify them right away, and often, the problem was already fixed by the time he saw the review, he said.
Customers have been happy, though, he said, saying plates come back empty and people leave satisfied: “Every day is busier. I’m really happy.”
Charley Shore, executive director of the Queen Anne Chamber of Commerce, said she thinks people on Queen Anne want affordable, family-friendly restaurant options on the top of Queen Anne.
“It’s always great to see a new business and new energy happening on Queen Anne,” she said. “I’m really optimistic that everything is going to be great on all ends.”
‘A brand-new life’
The 100-year-old house Nana’s occupies doesn’t come without its new challenges, though. While preparing the restaurant, he had to take care of problems with the electricity and water. “There’s a new thing every day to take on,” Preciado said.
Upstairs, Preciado plans to turn the space into a waiting area and bar for the colder months by November. He hopes this space will become a place that people rent out for parties, as he plans to have games on the tables near the fireplace.
Out back will be another 21-and-older patio that will be enclosed from the neighborhood.
In the basement, there’s a small dining space, with burgundy walls, rich dark-wood furniture and a gothic light fixture. Preciado hopes to make this space a private dining area and incorporate flames, the devil and Dia de Los Muertos decor, noting that the devil plays a strong role in Latin culture.
Preciado has been working seven days a week to make sure the restaurant and its future dining areas are successful.
The space has had “lots of different lives,” he said. “And this is its brand-new life.”
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