Reports of Revolver Taco Lounge’s closing at the end of the year were among 2015’s biggest taco stories. Lovers of the Fort Worth, Texas, gem suddenly presented with trichotillomania. The future of the critically and popularly praised taqueria was in doubt, but then came word that Regino Rojas, Revolver’s owner, was going to move operations to Dallas’ Deep Ellum neighborhood. There was a collective sign of relief.
I’m pleased to announce that while plans for the new Revolver Taco Lounge with its exclusive rear dining room, Purepecha, is still on track, the original location will remain open. Yesterday, Rojas signed on a six-month lease extension with the option to renew. He says Revolver’s continued operation is due to public support. “I was ready to walk away. The main one was the building owner was indifferent to me. So I was ready to change the skin of Revolver and open a new one in Dallas,” Rojas told me during a phone interview late last night. “But the people made noise,” he continued.
“The bottom line is the people of Fort Worth created this place. The forgave a lot of my early mistakes. I’ve been through a lot of shit with this little place. I put up the drywall. I painted it. I did everything. I have a little bit of me in this. It hurt me when I got the news that I had to leave. Then I heard the people talking to me and telling me to keep it. You know, you and Texas Monthly and all the people. It was a big help. That made people realize that they really like it and want it to stay. I’m sure the landlord heard that. He saw what people were saying online and honestly, I think the only reason that Revolver is still around is the people. They’re the ones that made the noise. It’s everyone. The critics. The people. It’s everyone. They made noise. Who am I to deny that? It’s something that I created with my family, and if people want it around there is no way I can take it away. It’s something they helped to create. I feel a responsibility to keep it around. I understand that I have to change a couple of things to make people happy and make money. I’m going to do that without sacrificing quality.”
Those changes include balancing business-minded necessity and culinary-cultural integrity. As Rojas told me, Revolver never made money. It paid the bills but was never profitable. Moreover, the West 7th District, home to the original Revolver has changed. Revolver needs to change with it. “The neighborhood has evolved. I’m ready to go to business. The place in Fort Worth has to evolve as the neighborhood has evolved. I have to make it more efficient. No dishes that consume a lot of time in the kitchen. I don’t want people to wait two hours, two-and-a-half hours for their meal anymore. I understand that.”
There will also be extended hours and service. “I’m going to start serving breakfast but I want to do something new, something different,” Rojas says. “There is this new concept in Mexico haz tu taco. I will charge you by the tortilla. Make your taco. It’s a taco bar. I will give you the protein and garnishes and you will go for it. That’s what I’m planning to do for lunch. For breakfast I plan to do a la carte items: huaraches, sopes, that quesadilla with sunnyside up egg, chilaquiles, all the antojitos and masa creations we eat for breakfast. In the evening, I will transfer to a regular menu for tacos.”
Rojas also opened up about plans for Revolver Deep Ellum and the special dining room in the back.
“It’s going to be a very good traditional taqueria but also be very avant-garde,” Rojas explained. “I don’t want to let go of my tripas; I don’t want to let go of my lengua. Everything that we’ve been doing in the original taqueria will still be there, but all the tacos are going to be by the piece. No longer by the foursome. But at the same time I don’t want to be stuck in certain things. The tacos that will be avant-garde will rotate. The first will be ostrich. There will always be something new.
Purepecha in the back is where my soul is going to be. It’s where everything is going to explode. The taqueria is something that we all enjoy, but Purepecha will be something very special. I can’t only express it in words. It will be something you are going to feel it. You are not going to feel like you’re in a restaurant. You’re going to feel like you’re walking into my mom’s kitchen. A lot of soul will be exposed. Everything is going to be cooked per day. It will be like my mom going to the market and cooking whatever she finds that day and that’s it. That’s why I want to keep it very small, for 15 to 20 people. So I can concentrate on them and entertain them all night and have them really experience the flavor and tradition and the soul of what I’m trying to express of myself. The taqueria is going to be fantastic.”
Rojas explained how he won’t be trading integrity for dollar signs. “I’m going Mexico in the next few day to get a bunch of things that I’m going to need for the new place. My partner is going to be someone from my hometown. I’m so excited. It’s my peeps going completely going for it. It’s money from Mexico coming in and going out. I’m producing for people here and for people there.”
Revolver Deep Ellum is projected to open late February/early March 2016. When it does finally open, it will not only continue Deep Ellum’s restaurant boom, it will also, in much the same way as Pecan Lodge did with Texas barbecue transform Dallas into a destination taco city.