Waldo has several Mexican restaurants within its borders, including Cantina Del Ray, Chelly's Cafe and Paparico's. In December, it gets a new cantina: Mike Flaherty, the attorney turned saloon operator, is opening the Taco Factory in the former Sweet Guy location, at 7439 Broadway, in mid-December.
The Sweet Guy, a confectionery-coffee shop, closed in June. When Flaherty saw the empty space -- owned by Botwin Commercial Development -- he knew he had the right idea for the location, one that would require very few interior changes.
As at the Sweet Guy, Flaherty says, "our customers will order their food at the counter and, when a number is flashed on a screen, can return to the counter to pick up their food. The layout of the restaurant won't be all that different from the Sweet Guy. That's what appealed to me about the place. We didn't have to do any major renovation."
Flaherty is also eager to get back into the swing of things in Waldo. In 1996, shortly after finishing law school, Flaherty opened the original Kennedy's Bar and Grill (the saloon inside the former Waldo Theater building, which burned down in 2007); he sold the business to his cousins in 2001, the same year that he purchased another bar and grill, The Point, at 917 West 44th Street. Flaherty still operates The Point.
"I went to college in Texas, at the University of Dallas," Flaherty says. "The most popular Mexican restaurants were inexpensively priced taquerias where you ordered at a counter and picked the food up there when it was ready. When I saw the Sweet Guy space, I knew it was a good location for that concept."
Flaherty says the Taco Factory will be family-friendly: "It's more about the food than drinking, although we will offer draft beers, margaritas and sangria." The menu is set to include tacos, quesadillas, burritos, salads and burrito bowls. Flaherty hopes that once the restaurant is up and running, he can serve Mexican-style breakfasts on Saturday and Sunday mornings. Meanwhile, the Taco Factory will serve food until 3 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays.
"When the bars close around here, people will be hungry," Flaherty says. "And we'll be open and ready for them."
(Taco Factory photo by Jonathan Bender)