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Coyo Taco's Scott Linquist to Open Olla in South Beach

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Coyo Taco's Scott Linquist is adding to his resumé with the opening of Olla in the former AltaMare space in South Beach (1233 Lincoln Rd., Miami Beach).

Olla, named for a Mexican earthenware vessel used for cooking and water storage, is expected to open as early as October. According to Linquist, "the concept is cuisine de olla," featuring sharable Mexican family-style food served in ollas. "That's where the name comes in." Linquist, who has been cooking Mexican cuisine since 1991 as an extern for the Culinary Institute of America, says the new restaurant will help him spread his wings as a chef. "Even though I love Coyo and I'm really proud, from a culinary perspective, there are a lot of things I want to do that I can't do there."

Linquist, who remains executive chef at Coyo Taco, says the new project has been in the works for a while. "It was on-again, off-again for months."

The chef explains that initially he was tapped to help friends who were turning over the restaurant space. They decided to walk away, but one of the investors, Aaron McKown, stayed on and offered a partnership with Linquist. "He said he really believes in the concept and my passion, and he wanted to do it. I'm totally stoked about it because he's an awesome guy. He's from Southern California like me, and we both love Miami and want to do something we think is unique and exciting, not just for Miami, but for Mexican cuisine in general."
Don't expect tacos on Olla's menu. Instead, you'll find multi-regional Mexican dishes like moles and pork belly cochinita served with hand made tortillas. Linquist says his is a more traditional approach to Mexican cuisine. To compliment the food, Olla will serve craft cocktails with a focus on mezcal and tequila. "I want to do great, fresh, beautifully prepared margaritas so they're fun and creative, not pretentious." In addition, find a good local beer menu, accented with Mexican imports.

Olla will also be open late. The restaurant has a 5 a.m. liquor license which, hopefully, will attract industry people who want am after shift meal or drink. "We want to have great music, but we don't want it to be a nightclub. We want this to be a place where people hang out, have some bites." Linquist promises to serve food and drink that caters to locals and won't "break the bank."

Linquist is looking forward to having a restaurant in South Beach. "I'm really excited about the location. I had some reservations about South Beach, but we want to have a restaurant that's locals friendly. If you capture the locals and give them value and quality, they will come."

The chef knows that between Coyo Taco and Olla he has long days ahead, but he's determined to succeed. "I'm still heavily involved with Coyo. We all have a serious focus on Coyo and this is completely different. I'm passionate about both."

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