El Chubasco switches owners
Andy Woodard tried to talk his brother Tom out of opening El Chubasco in 1997; he thought "it was a dumb idea."
The authentic Mexican restaurant opened in August of that year, but changed ownership by Christmas. Andy had changed his mind. He bought the restaurant from his brother and ran it until last month when ownership changed again.
Craig Weaver and Jill Dunlap purchased all but 15 percent of El Chubasco from Woodard, who will continue to be a behind-the-scenes partner.
"Originally I wanted to be free and clear so I wasn’t looking over my shoulder, but I ended up keeping 15 percent," Woodard said. "It feels good, free."
Woodard said he sold the restaurant in order to reach a long-standing goal of getting back to Europe, where he lived earlier in his life. He plans to leave for France this weekend.
"I lived there before and I’ve done a lot of traveling in France," he said. "It’s a good central continental location. It’s a promise I made to myself that I would do this and in order to do it I had to sell the restaurant, so the whole thing is really to accomplish this goal I had set for myself."
Weaver and Dunlap said they won’t be changing much at the restaurant. The couple will continue to serve the traditional Mexican cuisine that has made El Chubasco a locals’ favorite.
"We’re not changing a thing," Weaver said. "We’re going to do a couple of minor upgrades, such as upgrading the bathrooms and doing a little painting, but the staff is going to remain the same, the menu will stay the same it’s just two new faces with me and Jill. El Chubasco will still be El Chubasco."
Weaver, who moved to Park City 12 years ago from the East Coast, most recently worked as a manager of J.B. Mulligan’s and previously bartended at The Alamo, now called The No Name Saloon, and The Club.
"I’ve pretty much always been a bartender in Park City," he said. "I started bartending in college and just never got out of it. Before that I was in the corporate world for Red Lobster back in their New York division. I’ve been in the business for a long time and I’ve worked for other people, I just wanted to work for myself."
Weaver said the chance to own El Chubasco, which has always been one of his favorite Park City restaurants, was too good of a deal to turn down. The opportunity to eat El Chubasco’s homemade carnitas, Weaver’s favorite menu item, was too enticing.
"We make everything in-house," he said. "It’s funny, when we started talking about doing this I’d never been in the kitchen, and I never realized how everything, literally everything, is homemade. Nothing comes in a can. We don’t even have a can opener in the back."
Weaver met his partner, Dunlap, when he worked at The Alamo and she was a sous chef at the Blind Dog Grill. "She and her coworkers would come in after they got off work," he said.
Dunlap said they had a mutual friend who tried to set them up, but that it wasn’t until Weaver asked her out that anything materialized.
"He finally asked me out and I told him he was too young for me, but he showed me his I.D. and he was actually six months older than I am," she said. "We’ve been together since."
After graduating from the University of Delaware, Dunlap, who has been a bartender since she turned 21, came to Park City to work in the kitchen at the Blind Dog with a friend.
"It was more of an opportunity to cook in a kitchen with a friend and to ski again than anything," she said. "My dad was a skier and we use to always go to the Pocono’s and I had only skied a few times through college. I was ready to ski again and, once I got here, I started snowboarding."
After working at the Blind Dog, and two other local establishments, Dunlap said she was ready to move on, ready for the next step. She wondered what would be in store in the years ahead. That’s when she and Weaver met Woodard.
"We had gotten to the point where we had been bartending for so long that we were looking for what was next," she said. "But I love it here. It makes me forget the cold. It’s kind of like being in Mexico when you’re in here."
And feeling like Mexico is how she said it will stay.
"People can expect continued great service and continued great food," she said. "We are going to update that menu board and change out those specials that have been running for a while, but people can expect the same things to continue that made it El Chubasco in the first place."
El Chubasco is located 1890 Bonanza Drive and can be reached at (435) 645-9114. The store is open daily at 10:30 a.m. to 9 p.m.
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