Social media was abuzz last week over the news of a late-night taco delivery service called Taco Cat, which would launch over the weekend. Initial details were sparse, limited to a bare-bones website that included the delivery menu, a short FAQ and a service map stretching from Franklin Avenue to 40th Street and from Hennepin Avenue to Cedar Avenue in the Uptown and Powderhorn neighborhoods of Minneapolis. (Update: they announced today they would be expanding to cover up to Lake Calhoun and Lake of the Isles neighborhoods; see map below).
After some mystery as to who was behind the bike-only delivery service, its owners, Tristan Jimerson and Daniel Laeger-Hagemeister, have come forward and given us the scoop.
Both first time business owners, the pair have experience in the food service industry. Jimerson -- a former cook at Sea Salt Eatery, known for their stellar fish tacos -- is handling the food preparation duties, while Laeger-Hagemeister, who works as a delivery guy for Jimmy John’s, is heading up the delivery end of things.
The menu includes five options: original steak, mojo pork, chipotle chicken, grilled veggie and bánh mì, available in orders of three for $8 an order. On the food preparation, Jimerson said, “We really wanted to keep it simple, to keep it easy to process and get deliveries on time and cook in a space and volume we can afford.” At the same time, he added, “We wanted to do something more special than a standard taco.”
The initial wave of attention Taco Cat received last week came as a shock to them. “We have never done any advertising,” Jimerson said. “We just put up a Facebook post; to get that much media response was surprising.”
Taco Cat was first conceived in May 2012 as many great ideas do -- as a joke. “We were hanging out one night and we wanted to order food but were sick of the options,” said Laeger-Hagemeister. “We realized no one was delivering tacos.”
Added Jimerson, “It started as a joke, but it’s not a joke anymore.”
The service was originally available only on Saturday nights and the menu and staff were decidedly more limited. This time around, they’re operating out of a commercial kitchen housed out of the Midtown Global Market.
“When you start a business like this, you don’t have a lot of capital so using the shared kitchen there is a lot more affordable for us,” said Laeger-Hagemeister, “and it works well because it’s right on the Greenway so it’s great for the bikers.”
Now, they’ve expanded to a staff of four delivery bicyclists (“plus a few others as needed”) and using card readers to take credit card payments for the first time. “We weren’t really able to test the card readers before, and had never cooked in the space before,” Jimerson sid. “We wish we could have been able to test everything out before the media came out.”
Fortunately, their opening night run on Saturday night went off without a hitch, and they sold out within four and a half hours. They’ll continue this week with their regular schedule of Tuesdays through Sundays from 6 p.m. to 1 a.m. every week, or until they sell out for the evening.
Eventually, they would like to expand beyond their current service area and go brick-and-mortar, but for now they’re playing it by ear.