People often ask me, “why El Gato Cantina and what’s with the cat”?
When it came time to name my new authentic Mexican restaurant, I wanted a unique name. I didn’t want a name that everyone uses such as El Azteca, or Pancho’s, etc. I kept looking at names of cities or famous people in Mexico. I thought about my family names (Sanchez, Urioste, Cortesol), food related names, names of other restaurants all over, but wanted something with some meaning.
I asked myself what the connection is this between Vermont and me. Was it maple syrup? Cheese? Lake Champlain? UVM? The Catamounts? hmmm the Catamounts, it’s a cat. El Gato. I liked that as a name. I was attracted to it. It fits. People can pronounce el gato. Kids know what el gato means. And, hey, I’m a Leo. I’m definitely a big cat! And I have two cats.
I then thought about Mexico and my travels. I thought about the stray cats and dogs I saw there. I thought about how those cats sat outside of homes, restaurants, and work places. They were a little skinny, cool, self sufficient, sly, confident, at least they looked like this to me. They were survivors. I could relate to that.
I had it tough when I was young and could relate to the struggle of making it when times were tough. I thought that this is it! El Gato, my name, my connection to the cat, my connection to Mexican food and my connection to Vermont. I felt good about this.
Then I thought about what the restaurant should feel like. I wanted it to be comfortable, fun, happening, a place to meet up with your friends and family, and buzzing with energy. I wanted it to be a place to chat, drink, and eat traditional Mexican food…a Cantina. And thus, El Gato Cantina was born.
–Tree Bertram, Proprietor