For today’s Q&A with a local business, we interviewed Lindsay Krupa, general manager at Tequila Mockingbird. The kitchen at the Forest Street favorite is open 4 to 8 p.m. daily, and will be open for the special hours of 12 to 9 p.m. May 5 for Cinco de Mayo.
In addition to the items discussed below, Tequila is offering “Classic Margarita Kits” to-go. Here’s our interview:
New Canaanite: How is Tequila Mockingbird doing? Lindsay Krupa: The spirit in New Canaan is really touching. I think that we have been there long time and everyone just wants to stop in.
While visiting his father last year, James Mauk was struck with inspiration for a business of his own. Son of the man who founded popular New Canaan restaurant Tequila Mockingbird, Mauk noticed a sign behind the kitchen sink at his dad’s Pound Ridge, N.Y. home that said ‘The Golden Rule’—a reference to the age-old maxim that you should do unto others as you would have others do unto you.
Mauk, who graduated from New Canaan High School in 2006—playing lacrosse for the Rams all four years—and then Colorado College, had been feeling disillusioned with the food and beverage industry after working in it for several years in Colorado and California. On seeing the sign, Mauk recalled, he began to wonder what it would mean “if all industries approached business in this way—you did something that you really believed in and thought was the right way to do something.”
From that idea, Mauk’s new venture, Golden Rule Spirits, was born. That was 18 months ago. Since then, Mauk and his business partner—cousin and New Canaan native Hunter Sprole—developed their first product, a canned margarita cocktail based on a recipe developed by his father, Paul Mauk, for Tequila Mockingbird.
“I didn’t understand why there weren’t options for true cocktails in a can,” Mauk said.
The new owners of Tequila Mockingbird say they’re eager to continue the iconic Forest Street restaurant’s strong 25-year run and that means maintaining not only high-quality Mexican food but also great service. “We know the value of the people that have worked there for so many years,” said New Canaan resident Paul Tully, part of the ownership group at Tequila Mockingbird. “We now the relationships that they have with the people in town and that, quite honestly is part of the purchase. We hoped—because we could not guarantee that all team members stayed—because in the back of my mind, they’re part of what makes it so great.”
Tully and his partners acquired half of Tequila Mockingbird in the spring of 2015, when the group purchased Gates Restaurant next door, and bought the other half at the end of 2016. The restaurant’s original owner, Paul Mauk of New Canaan, continued as proprietor at Tequila through a transition period that ended last month, Tully said.
Paul Mauk had been working as a professional artist, painter and teacher of fine arts when he left his native Colorado in 1981 for Brooklyn, N.Y.
He hated living in New York City, and after about one year Mauk heard about an opportunity some 50 miles north. “Somebody knew [former Gates owner] Billy [Auer] and these guys, and said, ‘I’ve got some friends out in New Canaan—they’ll give you a job,’ ” Mauk recalled on a recent afternoon as pedestrian and motor vehicle traffic passed by the familiar, colorful exterior of Tequila Mockingbird. Mauk jumped at the chance. Arriving, Mauk moved in upstairs at 10 Forest St. (or, as the formal tax records now variously have it, 18 Forest St.
Congratulations to New Canaan’s David Thompson, who last weekend earned the title 2016 Cyclocross National Champion in the Junior Men 9-10 division (see video above). We hear that David is a 9-year-old who attends the fourth grade at West School, and local cycling guru Lou Kozar of New Canaan Bicycles informs us (dryly) that David’s accomplishment is “kind of a big deal.”
After impounding and multiple roaming dogs that all had invisible fence collars on them, New Canaan Animal Control Officer Allyson Halm is urging residents to double-check the batteries on those devices as well as their systems at home. A golden retriever on Skyview Lane, Labradoodle on Jelliff Mill Road and a pair of dogs on Oenoke Lane—a German shepherd and pit bull—all were collected by the New Canaan Police Department Animal Control section in recent days. ***
We’ve got the details on New Canaanite and “What’s Up With Wendy” radio show host Wendy Lowy Sloane’s sixth anniversary broadcast at 11 a.m. on 1490 AM-WGCH and online at WGCH.com. Her guests include actress Monica Potter, NBC Sports broadcaster Leigh Diffey and Bob Leary, founder of Trimino.