Picasso Cafe’s renovated kitchen continues Paseo District's culinary evolution 

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Picasso Cafe took a break from serving the hungry denizens of the Paseo Arts District to do something owner Shaun Fiaccone said should have been done before it opened in 2009.

He tore out the kitchen.

After the Paseo Arts Festival wrapped up May 30, culinary director and partner Ryan Parrott and his crew went to work stripping the kitchen of the restaurant, 3009 Paseo St. The next day, a construction team ripped down the walls of the kitchen to the studs, Parrott said.

Picasso stayed closed until Friday while workers rebuilt the kitchen. As soon as they were cleared to go back into the renovated space, the chefs began cooking for two catering jobs and the usual robust Friday night clientele.

“The whole kitchen gained 50 percent capacity,” Fiaccone said. “We had reached critical mass.”

Fiaccone said the building that houses Picasso has been leased consistently for the last 42 years. While some repairs and housekeeping took place, the kitchen needed a top-to-bottom makeover to keep up with the restaurant’s popularity.

The work added more refrigeration, fryer space, burners on the stove and storage.

Parrott said the overall flow of the kitchen is better and should help with preparation of sandwiches, salads and some appetizers — all of which had been happening at one very overworked station.

click to enlarge Picasso Cafe owner Shaun Fiaccone and culinary director Ryan Parrott recently oversaw the remodeling of the restaurant’s kitchen. (Gazette / file)
  • Gazette / file
  • Picasso Cafe owner Shaun Fiaccone and culinary director Ryan Parrott recently oversaw the remodeling of the restaurant’s kitchen.

Viva Picasso

While Picasso Cafe continues reorganizing the kitchen, Fiaccone and Parrott are also eagerly awaiting the beginning of a couple other projects.

The long-awaited construction of a Mexican concept at NW 28th Street and Walker Avenue is still on track, with financing, building permits and plans ready to go. In March, they even took a research trip to Mexico City to bring more culture back to the new enterprise.

The menu will feature moles, but the restaurant isn’t trying to reinvent the wheel ... or the taco.

“It will just be a great neighborhood spot,” Parrott said. “Every restaurant has a burger, but they try to make their burger better. We’ll have tacos and enchiladas because that’s what people want, but we’re going to focus on making it better.”

Those with more adventurous palates will have plenty to choose from, but familiar or funky, he said the new concept should appeal to all.

Fiaccone offered up another new business he’s hoping to unveil soon: doughnuts.

“We have about 25 feet of unused storefront where we decided to do a little doughnut shop,” he said. “We’re not quite going to be Voodoo [Doughnuts, based in Portland, Oregon], but we’ll probably be open longer hours, like midnight to noon.”

Paseo strong

Though other districts have made great strides in recent years, Fiaccone said he’s happy to continue developing businesses in the Paseo.

He expects the new Mexican food venture and doughnut shop, like Picasso Cafe, to be timeless.

“We’re creating a legacy of restaurants that won’t go out of style in 10 years,” he said.

The comfortable, laid-back vibe of the district is perfect for him. Business is still great, and there’s more on the way. The most important things right now are being authentic to who they are and continuing to make quality food.

“I like dressing up as much as the next guy, but who wants to eat hip and trendy?” he said. “That’s not who we are.”

Print headline: Painting Paseo, Picasso Cafe’s renovated kitchen is just one step in the continuing culinary evolution of the Paseo District.

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