Thriving Local: Getting ‘Saucy’ at D&L Taco Gringo [VIDEO]
CLEARWATER -- A business that started as a couple's mission to bring good tacos to Clearwater is up next in our Thriving Local series.
"We wanted to actually buy a Chipotle franchise but it was too expensive so we decided to do this instead."
Lonna Christenson is the former owner of D&L Taco Gringo. She recently sold the business.
"We opened the restaurant in August 2007 and then the sauce has been in grocery stores since 2009."
The Mexican restaurant's sauce has since put it on the map. Christenson credits a vacation and a dream for the sauce making it to the table.
"In Mexico one year we had these shrimp tacos with this sauce that was unbelievable. So when we decided to open the restaurant my husband said we should try to duplicate that sauce. He said he had a dream about it on how to make it and he made it and the rest is history."
One of D&L Taco Gringo's biggest challenges in its early years was to simply stay in business. Christenson says 2008 was a rough year.
"The economy crashed. So we were very slow for a good four years, it was brutal. But then with the economy recovering and more and more people hearing about us, it's very successful now."
After about a decade of running the restaurant, Christenson decided to put it up for sale. It sold last month. However, she's keeping ownership of the special sauce.
"I still own the Taco Gringo SouthWest Sauce. You can buy it in over 250 grocery stores in six states, so that's my focus for 2019 is to grow the sauce."
The sauce will still remain in the store. Sean Lauer is D&L Taco Gringo's new owner. He says the restaurant was just what he was looking for.
"I've been working for 20 years as a kitchen manager at various restaurants, we also own the Cabin Cafe in Avon. We started looking for a second restaurant, we live just up the block and this seemed like a good fit for us."
Looking ahead Lauer would like to expand.
"Short-term future we just want to keep it going, provide our customers with the best food and service that we can. Possibly down the road, we'd like to open another location or two."
D&L Taco Gringo is looking to hire, you can apply in the restaurant. It's located right off of Highway 24 near the I-94 bridge in Clearwater.
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