How Tony Monaco Followed his Dreams + Opened His First Restaurant at Age 25

Behind the Scenes of The Blind Pig

1. How did your business get started?

The Blind Pig Kitchen + Bar was built 7 years ago on a couple beers and a dream! When I turned 25, I decided that I wanted to create a restaurant featuring a menu of American progressive cuisine paired with an eclectic selection of wines, a rotating craft beer list, and some of the best cocktails in Orange County created using only the best products and freshest ingredients. It made sense to open in my hometown of Rancho Santa Margarita, and since then we also had the opportunity to expand, bringing The Blind Pig Kitchen + Bar to Yorba Linda Late last year.

2. What are you focused on right now? 

Our focus is always making sure that our guests are getting the best experience possible. Currently, amid the COVID-19 Coronavirus pandemic, we have pivoted our operations to focus on take-out and in-house delivery.  We’ve launched a rotating menu of “TV Dinners” which feature some of The Blind Pig favorites to enjoy at home. We’ve also debuted Grill Kits prepped with everything you need to make a The Blind Pig dinner at home. The burger kits are $30 and feed two. They include 2 1/2 lb patties, 2 brioche buns, fixings and chips are great for couples social distancing together.  For $10 more you can add on a 6-pack of beer or 8oz of one of The Blind Pig’s signature pre-batched cocktails. The steak dinner kits include an appetizer, potato & egg salad as a side, and house steak sauce. The package which feeds 2 and comes with a choice of 1 bottle of wine or two 8 oz cocktails starts at $52 depending on the cut of steak. Options are boneless rib eye, hangar steak, dry-aged NY, or dry-aged bone-in tomahawk. All to-go can be preordered over the phone in advance and picked up Monday through Friday between 3-7 pm and/or delivered. 

Once we reopen for dine in service we look forward to rolling out a new weekday lunch menu and cocktail menu in Yorba Linda. Insider Tip: Next time you visit, pay close attention to the cocktail names to figure out the theme!

3. What are you proud of? 

We’ve been grateful to receive recognition since opening The Blind Pig Kitchen + Bar in Rancho Santa Margarita in 2013. It was an honor to be listed in Restaurant Critic Brad Johnson’s ‘Top 75 Best Places to Eat’ for the Orange County Register, and having the Los Angeles Times call The Blind Pig a “destination for diners from coastal communities like Costa Mesa, Newport Beach and Huntington Beach.” Chef Karl's dishes have also graced the pages of local glossy magazines such as COAST Magazine, Modern Luxury OC, and Orange Coast Magazine. It was also incredibly rewarding to have the opportunity to expand and open a location in Yorba Linda late last year. The community has been so incredibly supportive and welcoming, and we’re proud to now call YL our second home.  

4. What sets you apart from others in your industry? 

Chef Karl’s dishes at The Blind Pig draw global influence from cuisines from all over the world, recreated with a signature Blind Pig twist. Some notable menu staples include the Mushroom Saltado which was inspired by the mouthwatering Peruvian dish known as the Lomo Saltado. This vegetarian version includes fingerling potatoes, puffed rice, and pickled mustard seeds, topped with a perfectly poached egg and chili oil. The Japanese inspired Squid Ink Pasta is crafted with house-made gemelli, 'nduja, braised fennel, and manchego, giving the pasta a rich, savory flavor. While the Beef Cheek Posole, a traditional soup from Mexican cuisine, features slow cooked beef cheek, shredded cabbage, cilantro, and radish. We change our menus seasonally and often because we find great satisfaction in creating new things. The same goes for our craft cocktail menu. 

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