Buffalo is certainly taking care of business these days. As the pandemic winds down, development is ramping up.
Adding to the momentum is one of TM Montante Development’s latest projects, located at 1275 Delaware. It was back in July of 2020, when I was afforded the opportunity to tour the project’s grounds with TM Montante president Chris Campos, who, at the time, told me that they were looking forward to landing a quality restaurant tenant for the building.
Fast forward to today, and a restaurant concept has officially been identified for 125 Delaware – Tacos, Community & Beer (TCB). I spoke to co-owner/operator Jon McKissock, who, along with Justin Randaccio, will be opening their second location in WNY. Their initial location in East Amherst has proven to be such a success, that McKissock and Randaccio decided that it was time to replicate the formula.
I first met McKissock when he owned Encore Restaurant at 492 Pearl Street back in the day. McKissock told me that when he was at Encore, he had considered transitioning Encore into a taco joint after he had eaten at El Hefe in Chicago. From the authentic food to the lively vibe, McKissock knew that the concept would be a big hit in Buffalo. But in the end, the idea was shelved, only for McKissock to revisit the idea years later.
“We opened TCB in East Amherst in 2018,” McKissock told me. “Our first 6 weeks we didn’t have a liquor license, but the food took off – if you have good food, the bar is easy. The concept was originally a quick serve taco bar, but when covid hit, we turned it into more of a full service restaurant. The new Delaware Avenue location will be of a similar nature. I’m looking forward to getting back into the city, especially in that neighborhood. I worked at Hutch’s from the ages of 19 to 22. I started as a busboy and ended up bartending. I’m still friends with Hutch – I’ve been talking to him about opening just down the street. There’s a lot going on at this location, with the 125 building, and the new development at Gates Circle. TCB will be a nice added dimension to the neighborhood that I fell in love with 23 years ago.”
When I asked McKissock how he came to find the 125 Delaware location, he said that Dan Crowther – project manager at TM Montante – would visit TCB’s East Amherst location, where he enjoyed the food and the vibe. Eventually, he reached out to Randaccio, wondering if he would consider opening a second location at the 125 building, which was being redeveloped. When McKissock and Randaccio took a look at the plans, they knew that this would be the perfect spot for the second TCB. The high profile building along Delaware, and its close proximity to Elmwood were added bonuses.
McKissock told me that the key to TCB’s success is to “Keep it simple. It’s all about the quality corn tortillas. Our head chef in East Amherst, Chris Mahone, designed the menu. The new location will be dine-in, take-out, or sit on the 20-24 seat patio. We’re even thinking about doing room service to the 33 apartments in the building. The hope is to also serve take-out margaritas, like we do in East Amherst (a huge hit). Aside from the dining-in element, there will be a separate take-out counter in the lobby.”
It sounds as if McKissock and Randaccio have figured it all out, and will soon be slinging their first tacos as early as mid-June. Once open, TCB will be a big draw, in a neighborhood that will one day be a destination unto itself. What we are seeing right now is the initial building blocks of a development that intends to create a multi-faceted village atmosphere. Ultimately, the urban fabric will include residential, retail, services, and plenty to eat and drink, starting with classic and gourmet tacos, and craft beer and margaritas – served up fast, with prime patio seating, and everything else that goes into developing the tried and tested recipe for Tacos, Community and Beer.