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Pintxos concept Telefèric expands to the suburbs of Seattle and Los Angeles

Marketing director Elizabeth Reviriego shares the Spanish company’s approach

Since 1992, Telefèric has been a top dining destination in Barcelona, Spain. Launched by siblings Xavi and Maria Padrosa, second generation restaurateurs who built on the experience of their parents’ Basque restaurant to bring the small-plates concept of pintxos, the Basque term for tapas, to Barcelona, and then to the San Francisco Bay Area in the United States, with locations in Palo Alto, Los Gatos, and Walnut Creek. They have two new locations of Telefèric Barcelona opening this year, one near Seattle and one in Long Beach, Calif. All locations include an attached market where guest can buy Spanish products and which can also serve as an event space. The group’s head of marketing and communications, Elizabeth Reviriego, recently discussed the expansion.

How did you decide on these two very different communities for your new restaurants?

We don't specifically target cities; instead, we focus on suburban areas where we find thriving neighborhoods with discerning residents who value foreign gastronomy, particularly Spanish cuisine. Our decision to select these communities is based on demographics — people who value culture and cuisine, aligning with our brand ethos. Bellevue, located outside of Seattle, and Long Beach, situated outside of Los Angeles, both possess a hint of European essence, which resonates with our concept.

Are you striving to keep locations very much the same, or do you make alterations to the feel and menus to reflect their communities?

While our locations maintain a consistent pattern, we do make adjustments to reflect the communities and the style of each specific location where we open. The ambiance may vary, with tones adapting to the coastal or mountainous surroundings, depending on the environment. However, our overarching goal is always to preserve the authentic Spanish/Mediterranean tones and the essence of our country. Authenticity is key across all our locations.

How important is it for you to use Spanish ingredients, and how do you decide what to use that is local?

Preserving the identity of our Mediterranean and traditional Spanish cuisine is paramount to us, which is why it's essential to incorporate certain ingredients directly imported from Spain. While there's an adaptation of our dishes due to certain produce that can't be imported for obvious reasons, we ensure that the essences, sauces, and other spices are sourced directly from Spain. In fact, many of these ingredients can be found in our attached marketplace. As for local ingredients, we carefully select those that complement our dishes while maintaining the authentic flavors and essence of Spanish cuisine.

Why was it important to have a marketplace onsite?

The marketplace serves as an essential component to complete the authentic Spanish experience. It adds depth to your evening by providing access to a wide array of products that evoke the feeling of being in Spain. After enjoying a delightful dinner where the tradition of sharing tapas is embraced, guests can explore the market filled with items they may miss or adore from Spanish culture, such as the beloved Cola-Cao cocoa powder. This marketplace is particularly cherished by our guests who have an affinity for Spanish culture. Moreover, as a gathering place for many Spaniards, having a market where they can access these products is indispensable. Our employees also benefit from this feature, often purchasing items at discounted prices that remind them of home. Additionally, the market has evolved into a space where guests can host private or semi-private events, surrounded by imported Spanish wine, gourmet tinned foods, and Spanish delicacies, enhancing the overall experience.

Why are pintxos an essential style of Spanish dining?

These are a big part of Spanish food culture. They're not just about sharing food, but also about sharing emotions and experiences with loved ones. In Spain, we love to share meals with family and friends, chatting and connecting around the table after eating. We want to bring this tradition to the U.S., so Americans can experience the joy of sharing food and bonding together like we do in Spain.

While we promote sharing, we also provide the choice to enjoy individual entrées. With an inclusive atmosphere, we welcome patrons of all backgrounds. Our cuisine embodies a smart casual style, appealing to a wide audience.

What is the aesthetic of the spaces?

The décor of our spaces are reminiscent of the Mediterranean, featuring sleek lines, warm tones, wicker light pendants, and tile accents consistent across all restaurants. Each location boasts an open kitchen and long communal tables, fostering a sense of conviviality and shared experience. Even our ambient sound evokes the atmosphere of the city of Barcelona. When guests mention that they feel transported to those bustling streets with their eyes closed, it's the ultimate compliment to us. 

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