The beach party at Yelapa Playa Mexicana is down one talented lead chef.
A year after opening the much-praised restaurant, known for its fresh take on coastal Mexican fare, executive chef and partner L.J. Wiley is leaving the kitchen as Yelapa focuses in a more Tex-Mex direction.
Wiley himself is in the early stages of working on his own restaurant, to open in the spring or summer of 2011.
"It's going to be simple, probably a green restaurant," Wiley tells CultureMap. "The kind of food Yelapa is known for, that's my style. It's probably going to have flavors from many cultural regions but focus on fresh, local food."
Wiley says he's looking at spaces, though he hasn't made a final decision on what part of town he plans to land in.
According to both Wiley and Yelapa co-owner Chuck Bulnes, the split was amicable.
"I'm still a partner and co-owner, so I'm still rooting for the guys at Yelapa. I just won't be in the kitchen anymore," Wiley says.
CultureMappers, are you excited or distressed about the changes at Yelapa? Where do you want Wiley to set up shop next?