Scott Slater, the culinary visionary behind Spitfire Tacos & Tequila, shares the remarkable journey that led to the opening of this vibrant restaurant, along with insights into the brand’s distinctive identity within the Apex Brand Collection.
From Dishwashing to Entrepreneurship: A Culinary Odyssey
Slater’s culinary saga began at the age of 15 when he secured a work permit and diligently washed dishes to fund his first car. His immersion in every facet of the restaurant industry persisted through high school and college. After weathering the storm of 36 restaurant openings during the 2008 recession with his concessions business, Slater evolved his success into the renowned Slater’s 50/50 chain of Burger, Bacon & Beer restaurants, ultimately sold in 2017.
The genesis of Spitfire Tacos occurred in 2019, just before the pandemic, as Slater ventured into the quick-service realm in San Diego. Surviving the pandemic’s challenges, Slater and his partner Todd embarked on the decision to relocate the brand to Idaho, reimagining the concept to birth Spitfire Tacos + Tequila.
Focused Expansion and Culinary Creativity
When asked about expanding the brand portfolio, Slater emphasizes a current emphasis on Spitfire and Earlybird, redirecting focus towards these ventures. Spitfire Tacos & Tequila stands out with its bold and bright flavor combinations, offering a unique and approachable menu, setting it apart in the Mexican-themed restaurant landscape. The addition of Earlybird, specializing in breakfast burritos, complements the overall culinary experience, promising a seven-day breakfast operation and exciting weekend brunches.
Inspiration and Innovation in Every Bite
Menu development at Spitfire and Earlybird draws inspiration globally. From Korean BBQ Pork Belly tacos to Nashville Hot Chicken, the inventive use of sauces adds dimension to traditional favorites. Earlybird, however, leans into classic American breakfasts, wrapping them into one-pound tubes of morning delight.
Managing diverse brands within Apex Brand Collection presents challenges, but for Slater, it’s a constant journey of creativity. He revels in the fun of maintaining menu consistency across the brands.
Eagle, ID: A Perfect Culinary Nest
Choosing Eagle, Idaho, for the newest location wasn’t arbitrary. Slater’s partner, Todd Ketlinski, a Boise native, envisioned bringing Spitfire’s elevated menu and tequila bar to Eagle. Acquiring Doug’s Burger Den laid the foundation for this culinary expansion.
Consumer-Centric Success: A Palate for the People
Staying attuned to food trends and customer preferences is intuitive for Slater. As a consumer himself, he relies on a common palate, understanding what appeals to the general public while infusing each dish with a touch of uniqueness.
A Tapestry of Brands: Cohesion with Individuality
Maintaining a unique identity for each brand while under the Apex Brand Collection umbrella is a delicate dance. Slater’s approach involves constant creativity, ensuring each brand retains its distinctive charm while contributing to the collective allure.
Triumphs Amidst Challenges: A COVID Chronicle
Reflecting on notable successes, Slater recounts the challenges of navigating the COVID era. A testament to community spirit, he and his wife raised over $70,000 in the initial two months, matching the amount, and delivering Spitfire’s culinary delights to frontline hospital workers—an uplifting tale in the face of adversity.
In Eagle, Spitfire Tacos & Tequila promises a culinary voyage, where bold flavors and inventive menus meet the warmth of community. It’s not just a restaurant; it’s an experience, a celebration of resilience, creativity, and the joy of sharing exceptional food.
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