Jon Shook and Vinny Dotolo are expanding again, building what is starting to look very much like a restaurant empire. The owners of Animal and Son of a Gun only just opened Trois Mec with Ludo Lefebvre, and now there's a fourth and possibly even fifth project in the works.
A couple of days ago, Dotolo announced via Instagram that they would be taking over the Damiano Mr. Pizza space across the street from Animal. "This is the location of our future project. Looking forward to bringing more delicious food to fairfax #newproject #fairfax #la" he wrote.
This morning by phone, Dotolo confirmed that he and Shook have owned the building where Damiano is located for more than two years. After a somewhat difficult relationship with the tenant, they decided not to renew the lease and to take over the building themselves.
"It's an opportunity for me and Jon to put something in that place that we can pass down to our children," Dotolo said. "We want to have fun, we want to contribute to the block. We want to make the city better."
The space is actually zoned to be two separate businesses, and Dotolo says they plan to restore it to two entities. They may do two projects of their own or they may lease one side of the building to someone else and do only one project. "We still have to get in there and walk the space," he said, "because we own it and it's in pretty bad shape. We need to totally rebuild it." He says they're looking at at least six to eight months before anything opens.
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What might they open in the space? "We really have no idea. We've kicked around a lot of things. We've talked about a lot of ideas, from a sandwich shop to barbecue to Italian to ramen," Dotolo said. "There are lots of things we love and we're interested in. We just have to get in there and crunch the numbers."
And what about that rumored fried chicken restaurant? "We're still kicking that ball around," Dotolo said. "But I can tell you that in this space it probably won't be fried chicken."