Austin chef Julio-Cesar Florez turned his Peruvian food business Birú Cocina Peruana into a full-service restaurant in a shared kitchen space. The business is now operating out of commissary kitchen hub Wingman Kitchens in Springdale General at 1023 Springdale Road, Building 1 in the East MLK neighborhood for dine-in and takeout services as of June.
To Florez, Birú “is an umbrella of different Peruvian restaurant themes and ideas to promote Peruvian cuisine and culture in this city through my cooking.” Thus, the menu focuses on traditional Peruvian fare. Dishes include lomo saltado (beef stir-fry with tomatoes, fried potatoes, and rice), aji de gallina (chicken in a creamy sauce served with rice, potatoes, olives, and eggs), and a variety of cebiches. With this new space, he will expand with more seafood and non-traditional dishes.
After Florez was furloughed from South Congress Japanese restaurant Lucky Robot at the beginning of the pandemic, he decided to cook and sell Peruvian dishes from his Pflugerville home (as did many chefs and bakers during the earlier half of the pandemic). “I thought: ‘I can either go back to Lucky Robot and go do food for someone else,’” he says, “‘or I can take advantage of this opportunity and start a business that has always been on my horizon.’ I chose the latter.” His daughters Gabriella and Angie help out a lot as well.
Opening Birú in Wingman appealed to him because it gave him the chance to move the operation outside of his home and access to equipment. “It is very much like running a food truck,” Florez explains his decision to move his operation into Wingman, “but with all the amenities that a real kitchen has.” He does want to eventually open his own physical restaurant.
Florez still offers private dinners and sells packaged seasoning salts and cancha (a corn snack)/chicharron mixes through his website.
Birú is open for dine-in and takeout services from 5 to 8 p.m. Thursday through Saturday. Wingman’s space at Springdale General includes indoor and outdoor seating. Florez is looking to add a prix fixe menu on Saturdays and offer delivery service at later dates.
Recently, Buda truck Tejas Birria opened a summer pop-up within Wingman in June. The co-owners are using the pop-up as a way to test out the Austin market for a potential permanent expansion.
- Birú Cocina Peruana [Official]
- Birú Cocina Peruana [Instagram]
- Birú Cocina Peruana [Facebook]
- Austin Bakers and Chefs Are Selling Food to the Public From Their Own Kitchens [EATX]