Present Tense is a modern izakaya style dining experience influenced by Chef/Owner Ryan Costanza’s cooking from around the world fused heavily into his love for minimalist Japanese cuisine. The menu is shaped by the sourcing of world class ingredients, fermentation, restraint, and Japanese charcoal. Expect a deep sake list, natural wines, and esoteric yet minimalist cocktails. The restaurant also features a 6 seat omakase counter where guests can experience a 12 course 2 hour long tasting menu with wine and sake pairings from GM/Partner Rick Margaritov. The minimalist modern interior is designed to be a warm inviting space with a detailed curation of sounds and scents to heighten our guests overall vibrations. We invite our guests to leave their troubles at the door, to not worry about yesterday or tomorrow, and to live in the present tense.
meet the team
Ryan was born into a family that lives and breathes food. He started working in his family restaurant at the age of 13, by 18 he was staging in some of New York’s most elevated kitchens, and by 21 he was refining his culinary skills in South Korea and Japan. Through the following decade Ryan worked with some of the world’s most acclaimed chefs including David Bouley, Sang Yoon, Govind Armstrong, and Daniel Patterson. After opening Nosh Restaurant in Singapore, Ryan worked alongside Chef Dominique Crenn as Director of Operations for her restaurant group, the 3 Michelin Star Crenn Dining Group. During his off days in the Bay area, he fueled his love for natural wine and it became clear to him what kind of restaurants he wanted to open and operate. Ryan moved on to San Diego to open Dija Mara, bringing the flavors of Southeast Asia to Southern California and within 12 months the restaurant received San Diego Magazine Best New Restaurant, Eater San Diego Restaurant of the Year, and was soon awarded Michelin Guide Bib Gourmand. Since 2018 Ryan ran and consulted on restaurants in Los Angeles, San Diego and Nashville.
Rick opened restaurants for some of the world’s most notable chefs and restaurateurs where he gained hands-on expertise in how to create impactful and memorable f&b experiences, and led service teams to elevate the expectations of the industry. Through Rick’s nightly engagement with guests he discovered a passion for storytelling about the livelihoods and multi-generational histories of the wines and spirits he poured, which he aligned with his entrepreneurial spirit and wanderlust to start The Drinkery, a Los Angeles and Singapore based distribution and retail company that represents dozens of top-rated craft brewers and artisan wine producers throughout emerging overseas markets. He led the expansion of The Drinkery to include the strategic acquisition of Thirsty Craft Beer Shop, and helped guide the retail operation to become the leading craft beer supplier in the Pacific Rim. These initiatives brought Rick on adventures all over Asia where he cultivated many unlikely friendships with folks from different places, experiences, and trades. The connections were always extended over a delicious, shared meal and several alcoholic beverages; through this sharing is where Rick deepened his knowledge and appreciation for sake.
Kenneth is a bartender’s bartender. Seamlessly, he manages to pull together multiple styles and techniques marrying both western and eastern approaches. Through his unique set of experiences, endless curiosity, an open mind, and a life student mentality, Vanhooser’s style can best be described as a synergy only found through having lived, worked, and excelled at Japanese-styled bartending, innate southern hospitality, fast-paced world-class cocktail bars, and
Michelin-style environments. Guests who sit across the bar from Vanhooser find a friend, an acquaintance, a dad with jokes, a brother, a son, a student, a teacher. The kinetic energy everyone senses when they meet and spend time with him is imbued with honest Southern charm and a commitment to true genuine hospitality. Vanhooser’s “blank canvas” begins through a lens of precision technique and execution and only builds from there. His use of an array of seemingly esoteric ingredients and focus on visual impact, delightfully result in multi- sensory experiences. As he is fond of saying, “no smoke and mirrors, just sleight of hand!”
CHEF DE CUISINE
Growing up just outside of Nashville, Taylor has seen this city continue to grow and evolve, bringing new life and food to the heart of Tennessee. Spending countless hours as a child in the kitchen baking with his mother and hitting the road on weekends to pit smoke with his father, food has always been at the center of life. Having had a true passion for cooking from a young age, being a chef was always on the horizon. Graduating from culinary school in 2013, Taylor started working at some of the city’s premier food trucks, hotels, and restaurants, always striving to continue learning and growing with the city. Working with some of the best hospitality and culinary minds in Nashville has given him a deep knowledge of flavor, ingredients, and what drives a restaurant to flourish and thrive in the diverse melting pot of food that Nashville is becoming. The ingredients and styles of traditional Japanese cuisine have been at the forefront of Taylor’s passion for recent years, and he is humbled to be able to help bring the unique flavors and atmosphere to Nashville, always living in the Present Tense.