‘The Mamas and the Tapas’ brings comfort food, funky vibe to the Vista

10/24/2013 10:38 PM

10/24/2013 10:39 PM

They jokingly call the décor “hipster grandma” and serve small dishes of comfort food. Put it together and you’ve got The Mamas and The Tapas, a new restaurant in Columbia’s Vista.

The lunch-and-dinner restaurant opened earlier this month at 931 Senate St. It was started by a group of young entrepreneurs who “really wanted to bring something different to the restaurant scene in Columbia,” said general manager Megan Glance.

“It’s a tapas restaurant, but we wanted to incorporate comfort foods into it,” she said.

Patrons can eat a range of appetizers, small plates and larger entrees, priced from $6 to $16. The menu includes dishes such as creole cakes and bacon-wrapped dates. The Mama’s Tapas portion of small-plate items includes tomato pie and crab claw mac and cheese. The larger Papa’s Tapas plates include Southern schnitzel and stuffed lobster tail.

The menu was developed by head chef Henry Yoo, who brings a Korean influence to dishes including bulgolgi, a marinated meat dish.

The 2,500-square-foot restaurant also serves specialty drinks and has a full bar. It seats about 100 inside and outside.

As for the hipster-grandma part, the décor features a funky floral pattern and 6-by-6-foot frames of patterned fabric, “almost like a quilt in a frame.”

The idea for the restaurant, which employs 30, was hatched over late-night gatherings after four young friends, who worked at the same restaurant, got off work, Glance said. They all had experience in the restaurant industry, shared an entrepreneurial spirit and dreamed of bringing something different to the area.

Over the summer, “we spent a lot of late nights talking about what we could do,” Glance said.

When the right spot became available a couple of months ago, the four friends, ages 24 to 30, jumped at the opportunity.

“It’s pretty awesome,” she said.

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