El Primo's prepares to open the Vault

April 9, 2021
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By Amanda Rogers

Mansfield Record

Next month, El Primo’s Mexican Grill & Cantina will open its Vault, Mansfield’s newest restaurant.

“It will be a lot more high-end with its own kitchen,” explained Todd Tonore, who owns both restaurants. “It will have quail and grits, sliced fillets, shrimp, lamp chops and pizza.”

Tucked into a corner of El Primo’s Plaza just steps from its parent restaurant at 2300 Matlock Road, the Vault will be a lot smaller than the recently expanded, sprawling Tex-Mex spot.

“This is going to be a really small venue with only four-top tables,” Tonore said. “The first five to six weeks it’s going to be hard to get into.”

Some people will have a head start on reservations, though. People who purchased wine lockers at Vault will get first shot at a table. The wine lockers, which sold for $250 for a year or $1,000 for lifetime, allow their owners to get a 20 percent discount on special bottles of wine and liquor, plus the ability to make reservations.

The 200 lockers are sold out, a sign that Mansfield is ready for the high-end restaurant, Tonore said.

Tonore and managing partner Robert Talley have hired 30-year veteran chef Dexter Huitt as general manager and chef for the Vault. Huitt recently worked for Jack Binion’s in Shreveport.

In addition to a full bar, the restaurant will have a baby grand piano that will be played from 8 p.m.-close Wednesday through Sundays and play by itself the other hours the restaurant is open. Hours will be 4 p.m.-midnight weekdays, 11 a.m.-1 p.m. and 4 p.m.-midnight Saturdays, and 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Sundays.

Opening and construction on the Vault was delayed by February’s snowstorm, but Tonore expects the new spot to be open by the first week of May.

Tonore and Talley purchased the former Nut House Grill at 2300 Matlock Road in 2011, enlarged the restaurant and opened Prime, a high-end steak house. In 2014, they changed the name and the menu to El Primo’s with a focus on Tex-Mex.

Last summer, in the middle of the COVID pandemic, the duo closed the restaurant and remodeled, expanding the patio and kitchen and adding a rooftop bar.

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