By: Stefanie Gans
“Mango Mike’s had a good run,” says owner Mike Anderson of the recently shuttered Alexandria restaurant. “We’ve been around for almost 20 years now. Change is good.” With the availability to extend the lease for five years, Anderson is turning the space into a Mexican restaurant set to open at the beginning of March.
Originally named Chucho’s, Anderson received a cease and desist letter from El Chucho, a Mexican restaurant in Washington, D.C., and decided not to fight it. The name honored a longtime employee of Anderson’s and the new name—Tres Hermanas—now honors his three daughters. His oldest, Danielle, who worked at Mango Mike’s since she was 13—”She’s worked at prep, running hush puppies,” says her father—will fill the general manager spot. She earned an MBA and undergraduate degree in hospitality management from Northwood University in Michigan. Anderson’s second-oldest, Chelsea, picks up shifts at the family’s other restaurants, Sushi Bar and Pork Barrel BBQ, and the youngest, Dakota, works at Sushi Bar.
“I’ve always liked the freshness of Mexican food,” says Anderson of his choice of concepts, which he says will blend Tex-Mex, Cal-Mex and “True-Mex.” The menu, designed by consulting chef Mike Rogers, who worked for 10 years in Mexican restaurants in southern Arizona, will feature: grilled oysters with mango pico de gallo, a pork tenderloin with habanera orange glaze, and a fire cracker shrimp burrito.
At the end of this month Anderson will also open, Sweet Fire Donna’s, a Carolina-style barbecue restaurant in Alexandria. Similar to Pork Barrel BBQ in Del Ray, Sweet Fire Donna’s will offer counter service and full service at the six-tap bar. He hopes to keep the 6,000 residents of the Carlyle area closer to home.
Like all restaurants, openings depend on the completion of lots of paperwork, licenses and construction, the latter of which is what’s holding up Anderson. He broke his hip while working at the restaurant at the end of last month. “I’m the head construction guy. It’s been quite the challenge.”
“Guess you can’t sue yourself?” I ask. Anderson laughs, “Guess you can’t sue yourself.” / Tres Hermanas, 4580 Duke St., Alexandria; Sweet Fire Donna’s , 510 John Carlyle St., Alexandria