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Remodeled restaurants reopen

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The Beat goes on

Lucy Perutz and Toby Britt have finally put down the power tools.

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“It feels so [expletive] good,” Perutz said. “I’d say running a restaurant, for us, is easier than construction life and odd-jobbing. Mostly because we like it a lot more!”

That’s not to say revamping the former Dancing Colors boutique and original iteration of The Beat, which both shared the 968 Main St. address, didn’t have perks. Perutz became pretty proficient with a jackhammer, she noted. And it offered a different kind of family bonding for Britt.

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“I got into some of the construction,” he said. “I got to hang out with my dad a lot too; it was super fun.”

The elder Britt, Jeff, was a mainstay during weekends.

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“It’s funny, too, because I walk in, and it’s spectacularly beautiful. You don’t see it when you’re doing it all the time. You don’t realize like, ‘We did a good job!’” Jeff laughed. “I was drilling holes into the tile the day before they opened.”

The Beat opened its doors Tuesday, April 23 with little fanfare, which was intentional, Perutz noted. Their third day in business saw double the number of patrons than their second.

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“I think we’ve gotten a good response,” Perutz said.

The space is simultaneously vibrant — deep greens and purples claim much of the walls and wooden detailing — and cozy. It’s new, but acknowledges its history.

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“A shitload of the stuff we found here to build the place is secondhand,” Perutz laughed. “Every chair in here is old, all the tables were repurposed. Oh, and the little nod to the gift store is kind of fun. It’s just that so many people loved Cathy’s store,” she added, literally nodding toward the shelves boasting color-coordinated knick-knacks.

The secondhand furniture accomplishes two goals: it adds to the pub-like ambiance Perutz and Britt wanted to cultivate as well as serves as part of their larger environmental stewardship.

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“We want to save the world,” Perutz said. “We really, really want to encourage pedestrian and bicycle traffic. We’ve got our sweet little setup out front, our little fix-it station. You can come by and fix up your bike. There’s a pump; there are tools.”

Even the vegetarian fare has a purpose beyond Perutz’s personal dietary choices.

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“There’s a lot of great meat producers in the Valley, but that’s not our thing. And cutting carbon emissions by not serving meat is huge to us,” she said.

In addition to the many seasonal lunch staples — which still include favorites like the sushi salad — Perutz and Britt want to cater to on-the-go customers, as well. They’re doing just that with the Beat Box, a $10 grab-and-go option that changes with Pertuz’s whims and her vendors’ produce.

“Lucy’s kind of at her best when she has to make something real quick, and she comes up with really great stuff. So it’s a way to keep her always doing that,” Britt said.

Plus, Perutz noted, a grab-and-go option (but call ahead, she emphasized) allows the restaurant to serve people with limited time in the middle of the workday.

“To a lot of people, lunch is a luxury,” she said. “Lunch is not something that people sit down and have; it’s something that they eat at their desk really fast. People here, they need something quick, they need something healthy. It’s an active community.”

But for those who do have the time to sit down and enjoy a biodynamic wine or cocktail with their entree, the newly renovated space offers an intimacy that reflects the “pub life” Britt fell in love with while visiting his in-laws with Perutz in England. In fact, there’s even a no-laptop rule to protect the vibe.

That vibe will only continue to grow as the season goes on. Perutz and Britt are already looking forward to outdoor events and gardens and, eventually, opening for dinner.

“We’re aiming for June to be open for dinner,” Britt said.

“Mid-June,” Perutz quipped, before amending: “As soon as we can.”

“We’ve learned not to give dates out,” Britt laughed.

Señor Taco Show debuts Axkawa

The Beat isn’t the only family restaurant reopening under expanded roofs in Carbondale. This First Friday, May 3, will mark the soft opening for Axkawa, a full-dining culinary experience from Señor Taco Show.

Chef Francisco Curiel is teaming up with his daughters Desireé and Fátima Bernal to lead the endeavor, but the entire family is involved. Marisol Bernal put together an audiofile to help translate the family’s intentions from Spanish to English.

“Our food has always been sacred in our household,” she said. And while Señor Taco Show always focused on “bringing you authentic, creative and fresh flavors,” the tacos reflected more contemporary flavor profiles.

Axkawa, meaning abundance in the indigenous Nahuatl language, will shift to a precolonial palette.

“Our native region is western Jalisco,” Marisol said. “That is where most of our preparation techniques are based. The way we make salsa has been made for 100 years or more.”

The Curiel and Bernal family will open Axkawa’s doors First Friday and then settle into a two-month soft opening period. Fans of Señor Taco Show will find plenty to keep them satiated, and then by July, there will be even more options to try.

“As well as honoring and going back to … our native, pre-Hispanice roots — meaning Mexico before the Spanish conquest — we will slowly be introducing new dishes,” Marisol said. “We will have our soft opening this First Friday, where you will be able to enjoy your most cherished favorites as well as a couple new additions. As we slowly introduce the new dishes and honoring our pre-Hispanic roots with what you know as superfoods, such as chia, spirulina, chocolate and quinoa from Peruvian origins.”

Much like The Beat, no detail was overlooked in Axkawa’s new dining space. Fátima, whose art focuses on sculpture but also includes watercolors and ink work, recently finished a maize-inspired series that fueled the entire restaurant’s look, including its future logo.

“It’s funny because the art kind of came first,” she said. “We knew we wanted to change the name because we were elevating the concept altogether. We were searching for the name, and then we found it, and it was like, ‘Oh, these designs are going to be perfect for the logo.”

While the logo is still pending, Fátima’s work inthe restaurant is ready for its debut to the public.

“It’s six ink and watercolor drawings and one steel sculpture, and it’s all inspired by maize because maiz is the lifeline of our cuisine,” she said. “It also just kind of echoes the different pattern of when you think of abundance or these patterns that kind of expand like that.”

Art permeates every aspect of the concept, from the handcrafted furniture to the cuisine itself. Even the new tagline, “acuarela de sabores,” essentially translates to “watercolor of flavor” — though Fatima added that she and her family are working on crafting what they feel would be a better interpretation to express the quality they’re conveying in Spanish.

More than anything, Curiel and the Bernals are excited to present their latest labor of love to the community. Axkawa is by a long-time Carbondale family and built alongside fellow Carbondalians, Fátima noted.

“Everything has been really hands-on and family oriented,” she said.

Fátima and Perutz are also friends, and both beamed for the other when discussing their respective openings.

“We’ve been going through the same stuff for literally a year!” Fátima laughed.

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