Dining is a luxury experience at The Village, with three full-service restaurants driven by chef Junior Borges, Meridian and Anise. La Mina, a subterranean restaurant, is the latest.
These new eateries are part of a major overhaul of The Village, a walkable community that’s a city within a city. With the addition of The Drey Hotel, new shops, 10 dining spots and a reopened golf club, The Village now offers lifestyle amenities available to the public and its 10,000 residents. Only the fitness center and country club remain exclusive to residents.
Casie Caldwell, The Village’s vice president of food and beverage, has lived in Lake Highlands for 16 years. She provided a behind-the-scenes look at what goes into this fledgling dining scene.
HOW LONG HAVE YOU WORKED HERE?
I’ll be going on my fourth year next year. So, I came on board when we were very much still under construction. The basic buildings were done and the structure but, essentially, the design details or the finish-outs were not anywhere close to being completed. And then, of course, COVID hit. And that was a big challenge not only for construction, but for the restaurant business. But the entire Village is open as of Sept. 1.
GIVE US A RUNDOWN OF WHAT GOES INTO YOUR ROLE.
The Village, as an ownership team, sort of knew what type of concepts they wanted. My job was to come in and help refine designs, execution of the front-of-house and back-of-house kitchens, things of that nature. And of course, hiring and selecting smallwares, tablescapes and things like that.
HOW MUCH STAFF DO YOU TYPICALLY MANAGE?
We had to go out there and find 500 people that wanted to work. We are not immune to the labor shortages that are going on across the country. That’s been my No. 1 issue across the board, just finding good people. I have a great team, and we’ve been very fortunate to find good people. Like I said, it’s a constant, constant issue every day. I feel like it won’t stop. We’re constantly hiring.
Photo courtesy of Roundhouse at The Village
HOW DO YOU DECIDE ON THE DINING EXPERIENCES?
I can tell you that a lot of research and development went into what the villagers wanted. So, at the time, our teams were very involved in polling our villagers and really looking into what their habits were. The demographic of course, is a little bit younger. So there was a lot of polling the audience, and then of course, what was trending, what we know is popular in food and beverage. But I would say the big part of it is we know our audience.
WHAT DOES THE COMMUNITY ENJOY MOST ABOUT THE EXPERIENCE?
If you drive here, you’re parking underground. The community is very walkable. So you feel like you’ve walked into something really special. You’re not sitting there in a traditional strip center, looking out into the parking lot. You can see the design and the details that we put into making it feel very intricate, very special. We’ve created a convivial space for our guests.
WHAT IS A COMMON MISCONCEPTION PEOPLE HAVE?
If there’s any misconception, it’s that we’re exclusive to just the villagers, and we’re not. I mean, 95% of what we’re doing is open to the public. The majority of what we’re doing here is open to the public.
WHAT IS UNIQUE ABOUT DINING AT LA MINA?
I think it’s a little bit of a hidden gem inside The Village. The fact that it’s a subterranean restaurant, you kind of have to seek it out. Once you’re there, you really feel like you’ve discovered something special. So it feels a little bit hidden, and of course, it was designed that way. La Mina translates to “the mine” in Spanish.