Andes Cafe emerged as one of 2014's most intriguing new restaurants. For chef David Guerrero, the restaurant's menu of popular dishes from a variety of South American countries represented a fresh start after Alma, his restaurant in the Energy Corridor, closed after a brief six-month run.
While Andes Cafe continues to thrive as part of the Second Ward's development, Guerrero has removed himself from a day to day role as chef. While it wouldn't surprise anyone if Guerrero was preparing to launch another restaurant, the reason for his decision is far more tragic.
"I cannot close my dream," he insists, but he'll need Andes Cafe's patrons to keep it alive.
Last week, Guerrero revealed that the brain cancer he fought in 2010 has returned. On Monday, he'll be at Methodist Hospital for seven hours of MRI studies. On Tuesday, doctors will perform a nine-hour surgery to remove the tumor. Then he's looking at a six-month long course of chemotherapy and radiation before he can even consider returning to the restaurant.
In speaking with Guerrero on Friday, the chef is remarkably calm about his future ordeal. After all, he's been through this before, and his doctors consider him to be in excellent health — aside from the brain tumor, of course. More than anything, he's worried about what will happen to Andes in his absence.
"I cannot close my dream," he insists, but he'll need Andes Cafe's patrons to keep it alive. Guerrero's business partner in the venture recently accepted a new job in Alaska, and he hasn't had time to train someone to handle the various management tasks.
"Basically, my guys are going to be running it by themselves," Guerrero says. "It's going to be tough, but that's why I need support from people."
If Sunday night is any indication, he'll get it. A crowd of well-wishers, including customers and people from Houston's restaurant community, showed up for an impromptu potluck that featured leftovers from the Houston Barbecue Festival. A few people teared up when Guerrero and his wife Gillian addressed the crowd.
Hopefully, the group can gather again in a few months to celebrate his return.