Made With Love

A New Restaurant Will Bring Elevated Mexican Food to Gulf Gate

Kolucan is the brainchild of Gino Calleja, the owner of Reyna's Taqueria, and his business partner Jose Rojas.

By Lauren Jackson July 6, 2023

Gino Calleja and Jose Rojas, owners of Kolucan.

Gino Calleja and Jose Rojas, owners of Kolucan.

A new Mexican restaurant is coming to Gulf Gate in mid-August. The restaurant, called Kolucan, is the brainchild of Reyna’s Taqueria owner Gino Calleja and Jose Rojas, his business partner in this new venture.

Rojas and Calleja met at one of Sarasota’s storied Trash Fish dinners, at which local chefs would cook with lesser-known fish, often the byproduct of commercial fishing operations, that previously would be, well, thrown in the trash.

“We hit it off right away,” says Calleja. “We have a lot in common as far as our backgrounds and we were in contact all the time. When it was time to open Reyna’s, Jose helped out a lot. Even before Reyna’s, we would talk about doing something together, something like this. It was always in the back of our minds.”

When Calleja came across the new restaurant space, which was formerly home to Opus Restaurant and Lounge, he knew it was time to reach out to Rojas to follow their dreams of opening a space together. 

Thus Kolucan was born.

The restaurant's name is an alternative spelling of Calleja’s hometown, San Lucas Colucan in Mexico.

“It pays homage to my parents because I absolutely adore them. We want to people to feel welcome, as though they are coming into my mother’s house,” says Calleja, who named Reyna's Taqueria restaurant after his beloved mother, Doña Reyna.

Some current offerings from Reyna's Taqueria.

Some current offerings from Reyna's Taqueria.

In terms of the menu, the pair are developing ideas for ways to wow their diners.

“We want to show all types of Mexican cuisine, like traditional items, popular items and even street food," Rojas says. "There are different techniques for all of these types of dishes and we want to serve them all here, but in an elevated way."

The restaurant will have 170 seats across two restaurant spaces separated by a shared kitchen. One space is a smaller bar and lounge; the other is a larger dining room. The partners are still determining if there will be a different menus for each space and are toying with the idea of serving lighter bites in the lounge as they continue to conceptualize the menu. However, both sides will feature a full liquor bar and plenty of margaritas.

The new spot will initially open only for dinner, but the pair have plans for lunch and weekend brunch in the future.

Calleja and Rojas' excitement is contagious as they play off each other’s energy describing how the menu will evolve and what is going to come in the future.

“It’s going to be so fun,” says Calleja.

Kolucan will be located at 6644 Gateway Ave., Sarasota.

Show Comments