Taquito’s Restaurant, Tapas & Tequila Bar is one of a clutch of new, sophisticated dining and drinking venues that have opened in West Vale — and each one has benefited from the vision of up-and-coming interior designer Vanessa Thornton, owner of Vanessa Thornton Interiors.
Taquito’s owner, AJ, bought the premises in August 2018 and approached Vanessa to help him create the right interior. “AJ wanted Taquito’s to be urban, chic, edgy and very true to the Mexican feel, but with a twist. He didn’t want it to look like a chain, there needed to be a very strong identity, a uniqueness and a real ‘wow’ factor.
“I did a lot of research to put together my interior design; it was quite a sophisticated process. I looked at other local eateries to see what they offered, which chain restaurants were doing well and why, and how traditional Mexican themes and colours could work together with modern ideas. It wasn’t just about how it looked, but how it could work for AJ and his specific business.
“Taquito’s is on three floors and I wanted them to all work together, but look different as separate spaces. The ground floor is popular with the drinking crowd, but I didn’t want this to encroach on the dining space, or the upper floor, which is great as a dedicated party area.
“I created an overall dark, classic design with a floral vibe, using the Mexican flag colours of green, white and red, and the overall vibrancy of Mexico. The floral pattern is reflected in the use of ceramic tiles, which are on the stair risers and also sweeping up to and over the bar. I also created a ‘blossom tree’ for the busy ground floor bar, which adds a lovely atmosphere, and hanging white wisteria in the upper loft space.
“The flooring was crucial to the new venue, because it needed to be stylish and gorgeous, working with the design themes, but also fit for purpose, hard wearing and practical. AJ knows and trusts Altro, and I have also worked with them in my former career in commercial refubishment, so I approached them and they recommended Altro Ensemble luxury vinyl tiles.
“I immediately loved the colour range and the design flexibility it offered, and the wood-look options were perfect for the high quality, natural feel I was looking for. The texture of the wood perfectly complemented the overall design brief, because the textures and tastes of Mexico are so powerful, and this was exactly what I had incorporated into my design. Altro Ensemble also has great noise reducing properties and for a busy restaurant that’s really a plus.
“AJ and I chose two shades of Altro Ensemble; a dark shade called Anthracite Limed Harmonious Oak, and the lighter Greige Rustic Oak. Together they enabled me to create some beautiful flooring effects.
“On the ground floor we used the Anthracite in a herringbone pattern, which we used up to the bar abutting the tiled area. On the middle floor, which is primarily for dining, we used both shades of the flooring to create a random herringbone effect. We also used the Anthracite on the stairs combined with ceramic tiles, which looks so striking. In the upstairs loft space we used the Anthracite plank in a straight pattern. This space has a real rooftop terrace vibe, with lights in the eaves and that lovely trailing wisteria makes it feel like you’re really outdoors.”
Altro Ensemble modular flooring system is the next generation of luxury vinyl tiles. From colour blocking to geometric patterns, with a range of plank and tile sizes and textures, Altro Ensemble gives design freedom to create luxurious floors for commercial interior spaces. With 57 options to mix and match, the modular flooring system has natural wood and stone designs and bloc colours too.
Altro Ensemble is 2.6mm thick with a 0.55mm wear layer, 15dB sound reduction qualities and added comfort underfoot, with minimal residual indentation and excellent durability. A truly exceptional material, it combines these features with unique flexibility and is lightweight, making it easy to transport, cut and handle for installation.
Vanessa adds: “The overall effect of the flooring is that it pulls the entire restaurant together in terms of a cohesive space. It creates a flow that works on every level, and it’s hard to do that in a restaurant on three floors. It looks beautiful, feels comfortable — the perfect stylish and hardwearing flooring for this project.
“Using Altro Ensemble flooring has really opened my eyes to what can be achieved with it, both in terms of the design possibilities, and also for durability and reliability. In a high traffic environment like a restaurant this is essential, because if one plank somehow becomes damaged or worn it can be replaced without having to fit a completely new floor.
“Altro is known for its quality and I will definitely be using their products, including Altro Ensemble, again for future projects. They were wonderful to work with, fast, efficient, helpful and they totally understood the vision. The flooring fitter Lee Rogers was wonderful, too, professional, clean and he finished on time. This was a really great experience.”
Taquito’s opened in December 2018 and has already become one of the go-to places to eat in West Vale. Owner, AJ, says: “We have only been open six months but we are delighted with how things are going. Working with Vanessa has really given us a design edge, and we now have the most original and stunning restaurant that offers an unforgettable experience to drinkers and diners.
“The Altro Ensemble flooring looks and feels superb and is ideal for this space. It adds quality and works so well with the overall design. It’s very easy to clean and maintain as well, and that’s so important for practical everyday use. It’s a big step away from dull, industrial restaurant floors that add nothing to the atmosphere. It really brings our restaurant alive.”
Vanessa Thornton Interiors has been awarded an Altro Design Recognition Award for Taquito’s. Dave Ford, Altro’s Specifications Manager – North, says: “Vanessa has created a fantastic, human-centric design using a mixture of street art and biophilic elements to create an outdoor Mexican dining experience.
“The effect runs floor to ceiling, from the use of different Altro Ensemble shades that mirror the colour schemes and patterns on the walls and ceiling, to cascading flowers, and trees. The creative pattern on the floor effectively creates dining ‘zones’ within the restaurant, giving a cosy feel when seated.
“This is added to with the low, slanted ceilings above the tables, with the use of a starry night scene ensuring this feels intimate. It’s one of the best examples of inclusive design we’ve seen.”