Member Spotlight on Red Mesa Restaurants by Nicole Roberts
Peter and Shawn Veytia have been bringing the rich heritage of regional Mexican flavors from their family recipes to St. Pete since 1981 with their first restaurant on 4th Street, Seabar. In 1995, they officially started the Red Mesa family, opening the doors to the Red Mesa Restaurant on 4th Street with Chef Chris Fernandez and the Veytias' two sons, Pete III and Dana, by their sides. Chris Fernandez grew up in the kitchens of Oaxaca, Mexico where he was exposed to a great variety of regional foods and flavors from around Mexico. He apprenticed with the best from an early age and his passion for Mexican cooking traditions became his life as he has spearheaded the menus for both Red Mesa Cantina and Mercado, the casual dining restaurant on Central Avenue, since joining the Red Mesa family.
In 2009, the Veytias were approached by a development group with an interesting opportunity: recently vacated restaurant space in the heart of Downtown St. Pete, which at the time was not the thriving urban center we know and love today. Even though this opportunity came during the Great Recession, the Veytias jumped at the available space, knowing that with support from the community that already loved the original Red Mesa Restaurant, they could make this restaurant a success as well. And so Red Mesa Cantina was born!
It’s hard to find someone in St. Pete that has not already gone to the popular downtown spot based on traditional Mexican bars with small plates, but if you are one of the few, then be sure to order one of their best sellers, the duck tacos! This fun variation on the traditional Mexican meal is a crowd pleaser, but if you are not feeling as adventurous, do not fear! All of their Latin American inspired cuisine is delicious, and everyone is sure to find something on the menu they like. Or, if you’re looking to quench your thirst instead, then look no further! Tequila and mezcal aficionados rejoice: Red Mesa Cantina has the largest tequila and mezcal collection in the South, thanks to the innovation of Pete Veytia III. Red Mesa Cantina is not just a great spot for delicious food and drinks! With 22,000 square feet of entertainment space, it's the perfect downtown location for private events. They have held everything from board meetings and networking events to birthday celebrations and even a wedding on the roof earlier this year!
By now, I’m sure you’re starving for a taco! If you are ready to venture there in person, then take comfort in the extensive efforts the restaurant is taking to ensure the safety of their employees and customers alike. When COVID-19 first hit, the restaurant sat down and analyzed its already comprehensive sanitation guide and revised it based on recommendations from the Center for Disease Control. Even before the City of St. Petersburg required face masks to be worn by employees in the city, you could find every employee at Red Mesa Cantina donning one in accordance with their new guidelines. Additionally, both employees and customers must pass a temperature check before entering the building, limiting the chance of infection. They have also transitioned to a QR code menu (printed by our members over at Bayprint!), which both limits the unnecessary exposure from reusable menus and the wastefulness of one-use paper menus.
If you are not comfortable venturing out yet, then just turn to UberEats to try some of their delicious cuisine! During this period, Red Mesa decided to test out the popularity of Mexican sandwiches in the community with a temporary shop on UberEats, Quatro. They were a hit, and the Red Mesa family is debating opening it up as a permanent, brick & mortar shop in the future, so keep an eye out! In the meantime, while the shop is no longer available, you can try some of the sandwiches by ordering menu items marked “Q” from Red Mesa Cantina on UberEats.
In addition to these pivots made due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Red Mesa family looked for ways that they could support the community that has supported them all these years. So they launched “Help Our Heros,” where they took donations from their online to-go orders to supply food to local healthcare workers. Additionally, they recently made a donation to the Ronald McDonald House and have continued their partnership with the local public station WUSF, where they feed the volunteers working the phone lines raising money for the station.
As you can see, the Red Mesa Restaurant family serves more than their delicious Latin American inspired cuisine. They are serving their community every chance they get. When you feel safe to do so, grab some friends for brunch and head over to Red Mesa Cantina for some yummy mimosa’s and duck tacos, you won’t be disappointed!