The design concept for El Vez is influenced by different facets of Mexican and Mexican-American culture, including authentic design and craft, the Western frontier, and popularity of taco trucks. Located on Vesey Street near the Goldman Sachs tower, the restaurant is organised into five distinct dining experiences.
Highlights of the design by Rockwell Group are that before entering El Vez, guests are greeted by a playful storefront fitted with metal screens that are a nod to the traditional Papel Picado (decorative perforated paper) used during special occasions in Mexico. Complementing the screens, the storefront is draped with hand macramé window treatments by artist Sally England. The windows create intrigue as to what may be behind this frontage.
Located inside the entrance, the bar area reveals influences of the Wild West and Dia de los Mertos (Day of the Dead). The main design element is a custom 16-seat bar that features antiqued and weathered red millwork with joinery and finishes that reveal the maker’s hand. Metal longhorn decorations are positioned on the top edge of the back bar. The rose-hued crushed velvet lined cabinets at each end of the back bar have the feeling of local shrines filled with candles, papier mâché skulls, dolls and other objects. Bar seating is comprised of custom stools with antique painted finishes in blue and green. A vintage chandelier flanked by an oversized fan on each side help define the bar area. Custom high-top tables with wrought iron bases and rusticated wooden tops are surrounded by vintage metal and wooden stools.
The quick serve and “garage” dining areas are located to the left of the entrance. Inspired by an auto body shop, the garage area has an industrial, DIY aesthetic. The back wall features a hand painted mural on glass by James Comey, who is also creating site-specific paintings for the restaurant’s bathrooms. The wall to the left of the mural is hand painted with a black and white tool motif. The wall to the right is comprised of cinder blocks that have been covered by weathered vintage Mexican movie posters. Brightly hued wood tables and metal chairs provide a pop of colour to the neutral walls and floor.