La Casa Tomada is located San Lorenzo, 9, right between the Malasana and Chueca barrios. After eating at the restaurant a couple of times, I decided to have a chat with Jose Antonio, the owner and chef. Jose comes from San Felipe, a town in the north of Venezuela.
You have some very creative and outside-the-box items on the menu. What was the inspiration for some of these ideas?
- It is basically what I enjoy eating. I love to eat and am a big fan of food in general. Since the United States has such a big influence on the life and culture in Venezuela, a lot of the items on the menu have been inspired by American culture. Pulled pork, chicken fingers, roast beef, hot dogs…
You mentioned that the restaurant is still a baby as you only opened in October. How have the first six months been?
- At first it was a struggle to get people inside. We are located on a quiet side street and don’t have the luxury of too much foot traffic. As time went on and word spread about La Casa Tomada, we became busier. Every month our revenue has grown and I don’t see it slowing down anytime soon!
What are some of your favorite items on the menu?
- My two favorite dishes have to be the Fat Roast Beef and the Chili Cheese Fries
How did La Casa Tomada begin?
- Believe it or not, the origins of my restaurant go back to Venezuela. Back in 2011, in my hometown of San Felipe, we began serving customers out of my mothers’ house. Customers sat and were served in a makeshift patio in our backyard.
So why did you leave that and decide to come to Madrid?
- I became tired of the situation in Venezuela and decided that a change was needed. My father is Spanish so it was quite easy for me to get the proper paperwork to move here. Also, ingredients were very hard to find in Venezuela, as they were also expensive. Being in a huge European city like Madrid, I no longer have those problems.
Do you plan on changing the menu anytime soon?
- Yes, I am in the process of tweaking it. Right now there are 13 sandwiches on the menu, and pretty soon there will be 20. I am also adding a couple of hot dogs to the menu. One of them is a chicken tender wrapped in a hot dog, served with cheese, bacon and onion. Another addition that I am really excited about is a nacho-style French Fries dish that will be served with pulled pork, guacamole and a hoist of other ingredients.
When you are walking past La Casa Tomada from the street, you can see a bunch of beers in the windowsill. What’s so special about them?
- We only serve craft beer here. Most of the selection is Spanish craft beers, but we also have a couple from the United States, and one from the UK.
What kind of crowd does your restaurant usually draw?
- That’s a hard question because I really feel like it’s mixed. We get all kinds of people: students, young professionals, and older people. I think it’s great that there is a variety of people who come and eat here. On the weekends, we tend to get a lot of families.
Where do you see La Casa Tomada going in the future?
- It’s still an extremely young business so I don’t want to look too far ahead. However, I would love to one day have other locations. I would need a plan to do that however since I am the owner and chef. I think when the time comes for expansion; I will have a plan to make it work.
Do you have any advice for entrepreneurs who are looking to start their own restaurant?
- First and foremost you have to believe in your food and love what you do. As you can probably tell, I am a huge fan of all things food and love to eat. In order to be successful, you can’t copy a recipe or an idea. You have to believe in your own original ideas and be passionate about them. I think this advice can fit for any entrepreneur in whatever field.
La Casa Tomada is open Tuesday through Sunday, from 1-5 and 8-12.
Location: San Lorenzo, 9
Closest Metros: Tribunal or Alonso Martinez