Taco Cat's founders: "We're a couple of dumb guys"
Courtesy of Taco Cat
Last week, Taco Cat made every Minnesotan's mouth water when they announced the return of their bicycle-delivered taco business. But that wasn't all. They also revamped the menu and extended their delivery services from one to five days per week. Taco Cat will now be up and running from 6 p.m. to 1 a.m. on Tuesdays through Saturdays.
On Monday, Taco Cat announced that they'll expand the delivery zone to cover more of Uptown, including the areas surrounding Lake Calhoun and Lake of the Isles.
Addressing those who still fall outside the delivery zone, they wrote: "Nothing is set in stone. We do bend the rules (that's kind of our thing), but don't take it personally if we say no."
Hot Dish caught up with Taco Cat founders Tristan Jimerson and Daniel Laeger-Hagemeister to chat about none other than bikes, cats, and tacos. See also: Taco Cat launches taco delivery service: "Call number. Get Tacos."
Hot Dish: Where did the idea for Taco Cat come from? How did you guys meet? Tristan Jimerson: We actually met at Jimmy John's. Daniel Laeger-Hagemeister: What happened was, we were living together and we were exploring our options for food one night and were kind of sick of pizza, kind of sick of sandwiches, kind of sick of Chinese food, and we both love tacos. No one delivers tacos. Tristan: And we couldn't figure out why. We're not the smartest guys in the world, like, we can't be the first people to come up with it, so we thought there must be some sort of like fatal flaw with it. We decided to test it out and that's how Taco Cat was born.
When exactly did you start delivering tacos to people? Tristan: It's been a very very small thing for a couple years now. It was a joke. It was just something we were doing as a hobby more than anything. It started to get bigger than we expected and we sort of pulled some money together and decided to start it as a business.
Where do you guys cook? Tristan: We rent a shared space in Midtown Global Market. We're starting this thing with very, very little capital so we have to run it really lean.
Is it just the two of you cooking? Tristan: Yeah. I'm usually the one doing the cooking and then we have four bike messengers. All of these guys have been doing this for years. Dan: They're all working bikers.
Are they from Jimmy Johns, too? Dan: Some Jimmy John's friends. Someone from Peace Coffee. But mostly Jimmy John's, yeah.
Will you be adding more bikers? Tristan: We had a couple extra on Saturday that were just helping us out to get us through that really big rush, but we'll have to crunch some numbers and figure out what works best for us.
Do you plan to work through the winter? Dan: We'll be going all year round.
What's the story behind the cat? Tristan: Um, because Taco Dog sounds really gross. And [Taco Cat] is a palindrome. Dan: We had a friend and a stray cat followed him into his yard and we started calling him that.
How was your first weekend? Tristan: It was great. We sold out of our entire stock in four and half hours, which is impressive for us. We've sold out before, but this is the first time we've sold out in this kitchen. We weren't really expecting to sell out. This was supposed to be our soft open before the internet got ahold of it. We put one post up on our page and it kind of blew up from there. We don't advertise. It's all word of mouth. It's all just like people who have had good experiences.
Everything went pretty smoothly. Before Saturday night, we had never used the credit card machines before, we had never cooked in that space before. We were in there prepping until like 4 in the morning the night before and then all day. We just have to figure the best system to keep up with that.
We wanted to open last year, but opening a restaurant is a lot harder than just being like "we're open!" It was a lot of paperwork we had to go through. A lot of insurance things. This is new to both of us and we don't have a lot of capital to work with. It's a slow process trying to figure out how to do it as sufficiently and with as low an overhead as possible.
Taco Cat's new delivery map
Are you thinking about expanding your delivery area at all? Dan: The delivery area is not set in stone. Tristan: People who are really out of the area, we're gonna say no, but I think it's always gonna depend on how busy we are, how many bikers we have on. We're pretty lenient with stuff like that. We can't make promises. It might be hard if you're out of the area.
Who came up with the recipes? Tristan: That would be me. The way that it's divided is I do all the cooking and Dan deals with all the bike business -- dealing with all those crazy bikers.
Do you have a culinary background? Tristan: A little bit. I definitely didn't go to school for it. I worked at Sea Salt. But, no, definitely no professional training.
Yeah, I don't know. We were both just sick of working jobs that weren't gonna go anywhere and were like, "Hey, we can work jobs that aren't gonna go anywhere for ourselves."
Have you guys quit your other jobs then? Tristan: This is a full time thing for me, yeah. Dan: I still messenger at Jimmy John's.
What are some of your favorite places to eat? Tristan: Sea Salt. They're real good to us. We should probably shout out to the Alt Bike Shop as well. If it weren't for them, we probably wouldn't be where we are right now.
Favorite bar? Tristan: The Anchor. It's hard to think of a favorite. We love 'em all so much. I like Tracy's.
Anything you guys want to add? Tristan: We just want to say how thankful we are for the initiative of the community in the city, especially in the bike community. We're a couple of dumb guys. It's amazing that we've gotten this far.
Get the Food & Drink Newsletter
Our weekly guide to Minneapolis & St. Paul dining includes food news and reviews, as well as dining events and interviews with chefs and restaurant owners.