When motorcycle shop owner and stuntman, Luke Follacchio, and hospitality wizard, Bruno Carreto, created Benzina Cantina, the objective was to bring Preston authentic tacos and margaritas.
“Basically I had this idea years ago to have a shipping container restaurant or bar attached to my motorcycle shop. I’ve been a stunt rider for 15 years, and always wanted to do something a little bit different outside of that,” Follacchio says.
Follacchio was originally going to just create an Italian café or bar, but over coffee with his mate Carreto, the idea of a motorcycle-themed Mexican cantina was germinated.
“We went for a coffee and then, as expected, the conversation flowed very easily – we both had very simple ideas, and we both loved the idea of working together.
“I still own the motorcycle shop Benzina next door to it, but we’ve incorporated this cantina into it as a separate business but it sort of functions as the same thing. We started the fit out together and tried to bring some similarities from Carreto’s Los Hermanos. Obviously, that iconic Mexican food, those traditional recipes have made their way over,” Follacchio explains.
Don’t fret if you’re a taco lover but not a rev head as the theme is subtle and eloquently done. “The motorcycle thing comes through, and a lot of people don’t pick that there’s a kind of motorcycle-y vibe there. Our pendant lights over the bar are surrounded by motorcycle break discs but unless you knew that, you probably wouldn’t pick it.”
If you are a bike fanatic though, there’s a lot to pick apart in the fit out and enjoy. “It’s one of those things, you come in a few times and you see different things. You don’t notice it all at once. Our door handles are spanners, which you don’t realise unless you pay attention.
“It’s cool, you know. It’s tastefully done. It’s a nice balance. It’s not overdone, it’s just tastefully slotted in.”
The fit out and atmosphere is an experience in itself, but what’s really worth making the trip down to Preston is the food. As Follacchio explains, “you won’t get your westernised half Mexican foods here. It’s traditional Mexican, South American influenced food. The idea behind it, and this was one thing that was very important to both of us, myself and Bruno, is authentic food. We both carry the same values there.”
Being in the North end of the city, the duo doesn’t mess around when it comes to serving vegan friendly, gluten free or even fructose intolerant options.
“I sympathise with those that make those choices and those people have allergies. I‘m allergic to garlic, so I sympathise with anyone who has an allergy and we definitely want to accommodate them.”
So what can you expect when you take a seat at Benzina Cantina? “Honestly, just a good, happy vibe. We’re not trying to be a fine dining restaurant, or a million dollar restaurant; we just want a nice, great environment with good music, fun happy times and a great food experience.
“The whole concept behind Benzina Cantina is that you can come and spend $20 and have a few tacos and a beer and walk away happy. Or, you can come and spend hundreds on all different platters, entrees, mains and cocktails and really ham it up. So, the idea there is to cater to everyone and leave everyone wanting more.”
Benzina Cantina is open Tuesday to Sunday at 84 High Street, Preston. Head to their website for info on the menu and other cool stuff happening at the venue.