By Dean Fiotto, Contributing Writer
This past Monday marked opening day for a new concept restaurant on Main Street called Tacomano that promises to serve up “Mexican street food” everyday and even into the night.
From burritos to tacos to chimichangas, Tacomano takes pride in their ingredients and their diligent staff.
“We don’t even have a freezer,” said 25-year-old Tacomano manager and Portsmouth native Dan Harmer. “Everything comes in fresh every morning. That’s why our prep-crew is the core of what we do. We rely on them heavily because of what that takes to maintain.”
The grand opening attracted many customers, and the downtown area was full of hungry students and locals alike. It seems most are thrilled with the new Chipotle-inspired burrito-builder.
“Opening day went smoothly,” Harmer said. “The buzz on the street is loud, so we’re happy to have that. We really just want to make a lasting impression.”
It seems that competition drives many businesses away from 38 Main St., but Harmer believes that they have discovered the secret to sticking around.
“Consistency is our thing,” Harmer said. “Down to our hours, our platform and every ingredient that we offer. We want to maintain our consistently fresh and good-tasting image along with our welcoming atmosphere to have people come in everyday and late into the night.”
Part of creating that image will require Tacomano to cater to the hungry masses that gather downtown at night, as they understand that college campuses have a very nocturnal student body.
“We’ll flip over to a late night menu on certain days,” Harmer said. “It’s still something we’re working on. This weekend being Homecoming, we’ll definitely find out what people are into.”
The venue comes complete with a sliding glass window that can open the restaurant up to those outside. They plan to utilize it — and soon. It seems Tacomano is not taking the term “street food” lightly.
“On Saturday night we’ll have a [disc jockey] out front and we’ll open up our garage doors,” Harmer said. “It should be a great time. We’re hoping to blow some minds with this stuff.”
Margaritas Mexican Restaurant owns Tacomano. It’s a concept to compete with Chipotle and Qdoba in the fast-casual circuit.
Michael Caldwell, the marketing and brand manager for Margaritas, wants the people of Durham to help push Tacomano in the right direction.
“This is our first location,” Caldwell said. “We may have a lot of experience in the business, but we still take our guest’s feedback very seriously. Any suggestions we get will certainly be considered as we continue to tweak our concept.”
Upon entering, patrons are greeted with a very familiar feeling. Each customer walks up to the counter and picks from several ingredients to build their perfect meal. It reminds many of Chipotle, which has a location in nearby Newington. However, Caldwell believes that Tacomano will have no problem competing.
“People will notice that our food is actually fresh and how good it is,” Caldwell said. “Everything is made in-house, including the sauces and the salsas. The meat is cooking all day long. Everything is prepared from scratch and those points will be clear in the food that our guests eat.”
And customers seem to agree.
“It’s definitely a little like other burrito places,” said avid burrito-consumer and UNH senior Adam Carlin, “but you can taste more of the ingredients in it. I’m impressed. The prices are better than most, too.”
Another crucial part of any business that finds itself situated near a college campus is interaction. Becoming integrated with the students and community could help a business’ name and reputation, and Tacomano has taken the initiative on that one.
“We’re doing a lot of catering for the football team and the basketball team,” Harmer said. “We’ve already made a lot of connections, and that is important to us.”
Tacomano is located at 38 Main St. and is open daily. Monday through Wednesday, 11 a.m.-10 p.m., Thursday through Saturday, 11 a.m.-2 a.m. and Sunsay, 12 p.m.-9 p.m. For their full menu and more, visit http://www.tacomano.com