TIJUANA B.C. – Tijuana’s famed Telefonica Gastro Park has something in common with its host city. “Like Tijuana, when we started Telefonica in 2014, the place grew out of chaos, very organically,” Enrique “Ejival” Jiminez shared during a recent first look at their new location. “And sometimes when you just let things happen in the moment, you lose control of the overall experience.”
So Jiminez and Antonio Gamboa, Telefonica’s directors, decided to move from their current location on Avenida Ocampo to a new spot just a few blocks away on Boulevard Aguacaliente.
There were several reasons for the move, space being the most crucial. “We’ve outgrown the original location on Ocampo. We can’t fit any more vendors.” Jiminez explained. “The new Telefonica is about a quarter larger than the current one and has two stories of space, as well as a large outdoor patio. There will also be more parking.”
The new location is so close, Jiminez and I were able to walk there from Telefonica’s current location on a recent afternoon to check out the new digs. Within five minutes, we arrived at the back entrance on 12th Street. Resembling an airplane hangar with a curved roof and large garage doors, the building appears to have once been used for warehousing, and at some point this month, will be refurbished and reborn as the new Telefonica Gastro Park.
The new, primarily indoor location will position Telefonica more as a “food hall” with trucks and stalls than a gastro park, as it’s currently configured. The interior has some exposed brick walls and playful, eclectic spaces with murals by local artists. In one spot, a ladder leads up to a small loft in which the floor has been replaced with a net, “For when people want to climb up and relax in the net,” Jiminez explained.
The outdoor ambience of the current location will continue on the new patio outside of the structure, which constitutes about a third of the total space. Some trees have been planted in the courtyard, which will someday grow to provide shade for visitors. A large, wooden staircase leads to a platform at the top of the building.
Another reason for the move was that Jiminez wanted to offer more craft beer than he sells at Airplane Mode: On. More importantly, he and Gamboa wanted facilities in which to brew Telefonica’s very own line of artisan cervezas and serve them on tap, along with 24 other craft beers from Tijuana, Baja California, and the US.
“When we found this location, Antonio decided that we would design the new Telefonica around the brewery,” Jiminez recalled. Indeed, walking in through the back, the first thing you notice is a grouping of shiny, large new chrome brewing and fermentation tanks in the center of a long bar on the first floor.
The beer will be called Lirica and four “themes” – types of beer, such as an IPA – will be brewed and sold at the new Telefonica. Why Lirica? Jiminez – also a professional musician – replied, “When you hear a certain lyric in a song, it brings back a memory, something that happened to you, a good moment, a loved one. We want to emulate that experience. It’s a beer you’ll always remember.”
Telefonica’s very loyal fan base on both sides of the US-Mexico border may lament the loss of the pastoral, tree-shaded Ocampo location, but need not worry about the change in regard to variety of quality cuisine on offer. All of their current trucks and stalls are making the move to the new location including favorites Humo, Otto’s Grill, Tacosteño and La Carmelita.
Additionally, Don Ramen chef and former Top Chef Mexico contestant Adria Montana will helm a cornerstone restaurant at the new Telefonica. Details are still being worked on for this endeavor, but will be announced soon.
The gastro park’s trucks will roll down the street to the new location sometime in July, and the new Telefonica will open immediately after.
The new Telefonica will be located at 8924 Blvd. Aguacaliente, Tijuana, BC. +52 664 200 2155, www.facebook.com/pg/TelefonicaGastroPark.