Chef/Owner Gray Brooks reopened Jack Tar & The Colonel’s Daughter for curbside in late June and now introduces a festive patio popup – Otoño – led by Pizzeria Toro Chef de Cuisine Marla Thurman. “Marla has successfully led our busy kitchen at Pizzeria Toro for over 5 years, and worked tirelessly since the pandemic began. Now she’s hungry for a new challenge just as we are re-envisioning the best path forward for Jack Tar during this challenging temporary time,” explained Brooks. “What’s important to us is to provide some comfort to our community, and we think we can do that best by opening for outdoor dining, honoring our team and their backgrounds by sharing their food, and taking care of our own – our teams, guests, farmers and greater community,” explained Brooks, who also announced 100% of profits will be donated to fighting food insecurity locally through Urban Ministries of Durham.
Thurman, who won Food Networks’ “Chopped” last March, is eager to turn another challenge into a win. “As a chef, I have so many cuisines and ideas I’d like to explore, so this presented an incredible opportunity. Opening Otoño will give me a chance to share more of my own culinary heritage with Durham and bring the delicious regional Mexican dishes that I’ve learned from so many of the cooks on our team to the forefront,” explained Thurman, who hails from “the heart of Texas” and has enjoyed tapping into the farmers she’s worked with for years at Pizzeria Toro to highlight different items like espelette peppers from South Wind Produce and hominy from Red Tail Grains in Mebane. And fans may recognize her Vegan Chocolate Torte with Chili and Orange as a recreation of her winning “Chopped’ dish, which used camel milk, beer flour and chilies.
On September 11th, Otoño will open on Jack Tar’s patio – in the center of downtown Durham. Otoño, meaning autumn in Spanish, refers to the season for this popup, which will last as long as weather permits for outdoor seating this fall. Look for a menu that celebrates Thurman’s Texas heritage and the Mexican dishes she and her team have cooked together for “family meals” for years. The menu will feature Agua Frescas, Tostadas with citrus ceviche and Seafood Tortas, and a wide selection of vegan dishes, like Tamales made with housemade masa, Pambazos with mushroom chorizo, Fried Chile Rellenos with tofu queso fresco and Chocolate Tortes with chili and orange candies. But don’t fret – Jack Tar’s signature favorites will remain, like Gray Brooks’ ultimate Double Cheeseburger, Szechuan Peppercorn Hot Chicken, decadent Pancakes and made-to-order Crullers. Otoño will open for dinner and cocktails Wednesday through Sunday from 5pm to 9pm and beginning September 19th for Saturday & Sunday brunch with Egg and Avocado Tortas, Burritos, Biscuits and Jam and Cinnamon Buns from 10am-2pm.
To complement, Brooks and his team are bringing the Jack Tar’s cocktail bar to the patio, too! The Colonel’s Daughter will represent the South by Southwest direction of the menu with an all-new cocktail program highlighting tequila, mezcal and bourbon. The cocktail menu includes Sangria using their signature French wine Jacques Tar, a White Mezcal Negroni, smoky Paloma, and brings Pizzeria Toro’s Aperol Margarita to Otoño for fans who have missed it since March!
Thoughtful safety measures are in place, including contactless ordering, payment and outdoor counter service for Otoño’s patio diners and curbside pickup. In addition to all measures from NCRLA’s “Count on Me NC” program and the Department of Health, dishes will be served in containers that can be taken to-go, to limit staff visits to tables and make it easy for guests to leave at their leisure. Staff will wear masks and guests are asked to do the same upon arriving, leaving and visiting the restroom. “We feel confident that our outdoor patio will provide a lot of space for guests to be comfortably spaced six feet apart from others, and be a beautiful backdrop for communing safely in our city together,” said Brooks.
Otoño’s patio will soon be welcoming diners for drinks and dinner, while curbside will also offer the entire menu, with the exception of cocktails. Stay tuned for Otoño’s brunch, too!