Honorable Mention: El Pípila: Guardians of Guanajuatan Cuisine


Honorable Mention: El Pípila: Guardians of Guanajuatan Cuisine

Schwartz and Architecture

A broad community of supporters and 3 tenacious women, graduates of the La Cocina business incubator for women food-entrepreneurs from communities of color, have brought El Pípila to life. This 13-seat sliver of a space draws on the history, textures, and light of the owner’s home of Guanajuato, Mexico, but moves beyond stereotypical translations of Mexican culture by referencing the vibrancy of Guanajuato in a more abstract and modern way. The design received a 2019 James Beard Foundation Award for restaurant design. A charred wood “Granary Door” anchors the space while drawing the eye to a field of depthless colored light. Legend has it that during the Mexican War of Independence, the hero El Pípila routed the Spanish from a stone granary by
setting its wooden door on fire, exploiting the one point of weakness. Our reinterpretation of this door is a metaphor for the owner’s hopeful future, aligning their efforts for independence with the courage of El Pípila himself. A mural inspired by traditional Mexican textiles runs the length of the space depicting the restaurant as a nurturing gathering spot, celebrating the centrality of women to the preservation of Guanajuatan culture.

Key Team Members

Christopher Baile, S^A Project Team
Neil O'Shea, S^A Project Team
Bruce Damonte, Photography
Schwartz and Architecture (Pro-Bono Design Services), Architecture + Interior Design S^A
Peck Lighting, Inc. (Pro-Bono Design Services), Lighting Design Pritchard
Design is Play (Pro-Bono Design Services), Brand Positioning & Graphic Design
SMW & Associates (Pro-Bono Design Services), Structural Engineer
Echo Summit Construction, Contractor
Engineering 350, Mechanical, Electrical, and Plumbing Engineering
Myers Foodservice Equipment Supply, Foodservice Equipment
Niche Creative, Metal Fabrication
Martin Sign Company, Signage ❘ Graphics
VP Consulting SF, Business Consultant
La Cocina, Business Incubator
Fox Marble (countertops), In-Kind Contributions
Ceramic Tile Design (wall tile), In-Kind Contributions
Ann Sacks Tile (wall tile), In-Kind Contributions
One Workplace (stools), In-Kind Contributions
Delta Millworks (Shou Sugi Ban Siding), In-Kind Contributions