Heart beating fast, sweat is dripping from your forehead. You wonder if people will like what you are creating. You look at your staff and think is this the right crew? Are these the people I want to go into battle with? Walk into the walk in. Do a final count on everything. Make sure prep is done properly. Ok, we got this. Lets do it. Open the doors! These are thoughts right before you open your doors when you are opening a restaurant. You think about every detail. What will be the first impression from the first customer. Its extremely hard to open a restaurant. Its not easy by any means. I have had the privilege and honor to open many restaurants. This week along with a really good friend. We tried P.Terry’s new concept Taco Ranch. It has taken me a couple of days to think about what I wanted to say. Talking it over Ainsley and having her remind me of why we decided to have the blog we have. I feel that I need to speak the truth of my experience. Not just my own. But those that I have heard from other ” foodies”. Here we go.
When I pulled up to the new Taco Ranch on the corner of Mopac and 290. I thought to myself that this was a beautiful building. Kinda has this modern Taco Bell vibe to it. Which is exactly what they were looking to do. The owners wanted to give it a feel of a 1960’s Taco Bell. Well, they succeeded in doing so. Walking through the glass doors and seeing what they had created I was blown away. Family style seating was really cool to see. You could just tell that this was a new restaurant. This is something that took a lot of love to make. This was someones dream. Sadly, that is where the dream ended. This is where I say ” what were you thinking”? Now I’m not going to be one of those people that just say I had a bad experience and not give any reasons. Oh no! We are going to break it down. From the service, to the food, to the overall experience.
The service. Now, the cashier that we had was ok. Yes, it was the first day. But on the first day you want to have someone who is excited to be there. Someone who is thrilled that you are there. That’s not who we had. Our person seemed confused on what they were doing. The person seemed to just read from a script. I had to tell them to just charge me. They went over our order many times. We ran into a good friend of mine. He also had a bad experience. His person didn’t seem to know much about what he was doing. When opening a restaurant you want to have your best people up front. They are the ones giving the first impression of your business. They are the sell your food. Training is so important. Yes, again first days are tough. But if your cashier isn’t on point it is a dead end. The cashiers control your line. They set the pace for the cooks in the back. If the cooks get over loaded its the cashiers job to explain the menu in detail. Ask how the customer heard of them. You just don’t keep taking orders. It becomes a mad house. That’s exactly what happened. It was a mad house.With time they can figure this out. Its going to take a lot of training.
The Food. I don’t know where to start. I don’t know how to say how I feel. So here it is. WHAT ARE YOU THINKING TACO RANCH??? For months I have read about how P. Terry’s wanted to open this restaurant with fresh ingredients. Tons of flavor and give you an experience of what it was like in the 1960’s with Taco Bell. Lets start with the quesadilla. Ok being honest here. It was like they just heated up a tortilla and took a slice of block cheese and put it inside of it . Closed it and sat it under a heat lamp. There was no color to it. No flavor. Literally just tortilla and cheese. It was the saddest thing I have ever had. Ok, this is AUSTIN,TEXAS bring out the queso. We as Austinites love us some queso. What we received was pretty much Velveeta and Milk. No seasonings. No spice. Just “cheese” and milk. Why would you do that to us? We deserve more. I also ordered a “burrito”. Sigh what I received was a cold lump of tortilla and beans. I don’t think I was asking for much. Please just heat up my food. Taco, the place is called Taco Ranch. Taco is in the name. How do you mess up the taco? I read as many reviews as I could (up to today) and one common comment was the food was cold. I understand that you are trying to push out as many tickets as you can and have a great ticket time. But really? Quality does not need to go out the door. Have pride for what you are doing. Make it sexy, make it fun, make it fun. Yes, its just a taco. But its my taco. I paid the two bucks that you asked for. You told me that it was going to be quality. I expected quality. I also had a chalupa. It fell apart right when I picked it up. I would think not to call it a chalupa.
Overall Experience. To understand where I am coming from you have to understand. Food is my life. I am a chef, a chef consultant, and a food blogger. I have almost two decades of having my life be food. No, that does not mean I have been eating for 20 years. Food has had a huge impact in my life. I do not just eat to fill up. Food is an experience for me. As well as Ainsley. We love the whole experience of sitting down and having an amazing meal. Even if its just pancakes and eggs. Taco Ranch did not do this for me. Yes. I was surprised with how beautiful the actual restaurant was. But you can not open a restaurant and have this low of quality and standards for your food. First days are always hard. Trust me I know. I know what its like to open and have just a line out the door. You have to prepare for anything. This is Austin. We love our food. We love our tacos. If you do not fix things or show that you are trying. This city will break you. Love love love what you do. It will show in your staff. It will show in your food. It will show in your customers smiles. We will come back in a couple of months. Hopefully things will be better. I honestly want you to be successful.