RANCHO SANTA MARGARITA, Calif. — Many restaurants have temporarily closed their doors during the pandemic but the owner of The Blind Pig in Orange County was able to keep one of his two locations open to ensure hours for his employees. Tony Monaco misses connecting with his community at his restaurants, but hopes to offer some hospitality through takeout for now.
“I love just looking out and seeing people having a great time because we set something up. Just showing people a great time and watching them enjoy it in your place, in your home. I think that’s the coolest thing,” said Monaco.
Seven years ago, Monaco didn’t have much experience in the restaurant industry, but he opened The Blind Pig because he always loved hosting and wanted to welcome the community to a fun space.
“Our original concept was a modernized dive bar. Food wasn’t up there on our priorities. We wanted a cool place to hang out. A high-end spot with a great atmosphere. As we found people with great talent, we let their vision grow into ours and it before we knew it we had a full-scale, full service restaurant,” said Monaco.
Luckily, they expanded their food menu, because with pandemic restrictions Monaco cannot offer that hospitality in person any longer.
“Some concepts are built for to go. We have great food. We have great drinks, but what really brings people here is that atmosphere, that vibe, and not having that has been tough,” said Monaco.
They even opened a second location in Yorba Linda, but had to close it temporarily. So, Monaco and his team rely on their eclectic, elevated menu to get by.
Chef Andrew Davis says they offer a variety of flavors from Asian to Mexican, but didn’t plan on the menu being a fusion. They just cook what they love to eat.
“It wasn’t intentional. We find these flavors that taste really good and they work well together,” said Davis.
This is seen in the mushroom soltado. It became a vegetarian, Asian spin on the classic Peruvian dish Lomo soltado.
“We put a twist on it. Use a tare sauce which is a Japanese sauce so it’s like a fusion between South American and Asian,” said Davis.
Chef Davis and Monaco want to still offer the same experience, even if it has to be to go for a while.
“It’s a fun environment. It really turned into family more than work,” said Davis.
Try the ever-changing menu from The Blind Pig located at 31431 Santa Margarita Pkwy, Rancho Santa Margarita, CA 92688. Order takeout and eat at a bench right on the lake!