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Lloyd taco truck owners get $250,000 from CNBC reality series

The owners of Lloyd Taco Truck won a truckload of money Tuesday night on CNBC’s reality series “Restaurant Startup.”

After some intense negotiations, Lloyd owners Peter Cimino and Chris Dorsaneo accepted a $250,000 investment in exchange for 25 percent of their business.

It wasn’t exactly what they wanted, but eventually, as dramatic music played in the background, Dorsaneo said the magic words: “Let’s make it happen.”

Peter Cimino and Chris Dorsaneo interact during the showing of "Restaurant Startup" in North Park Theatre. (Don Nieman/Special to the News)

Peter Cimino (right) and Chris Dorsaneo interact during the showing of "Restaurant Startup" in North Park Theatre. (Don Nieman/Special to the News)

Cimino and Dorsaneo initially asked for $370,000 in exchange for 10 percent of the business and they seemed pained when much lower offers came in for a higher percentage of the company.

In the end, both investors on the program – Tim Love and Joe Bastianich – decided they wanted in and agreed to share the investment.

Love and Bastianich also compromised. Love initially offered $225,000 for 33 percent of the company, while Bastianich offered $300,000 for 33 percent if he and Love invested together.

The negotiations got a little rough at times as the Lloyd owners hesitated over giving up such a large percentage of their overall business.

“One thing I’ll tell you guys is greed gets nothing,” warned Love.

Dorsaneo (left) and Cimino arrive in style to North Park Theatre. (Don Nieman/Special to the News)

Dorsaneo (left) and Cimino arrive in style to North Park Theatre. (Don Nieman/Special to the News)

“If you don’t realize the offer being had here, then you are stupider than I thought because this is big time,” said Bastianich, who was the tougher negotiator.

“You’d have to bust your (rear end) for 20 years to have a scratch and a sniff of what you are being offered right now,” added Bastianich.

During the hourlong program, Love, a Texas chef, and Bastianich, the business partner of chef Mario Batali and an executive producer of the show, offered the Lloyd owners business advice.

[See a photo gallery of Lloyd's legion of Buffalo fans]

They suggested that Cimino and Dorsaneo do a better job of promoting the quality ingredients they use and that they make their own fresh tortillas.

There was no question about the quality of the food, based on a survey taken after the two owners had served it to customers at a makeshift restaurant in Los Angeles that they had 36 hours to design.

Lloyd is parked in front of North Park Theatre, which aired "Restaurant Startup." (Don Nieman/Special to the News)

Lloyd is parked in front of North Park Theatre, which aired "Restaurant Startup." (Don Nieman/Special to the News)

According to Love, 100 percent of the customers liked the food, 89 percent thought it was worth the price and 96 percent liked the design and branding of the restaurant.

“You guys were successful in creating a really fun atmosphere,” praised Love.

Dorsaneo and Cimino have been friends since sixth grade. Members of the Kenmore West High School Class of 1999, they started Lloyd in 2010, serving up their versions of tacos and other Mexican street food. The Lloyd duo helped lead the drive for the passage of Buffalo’s food truck regulation law in 2012. Now there are about 20 mobile kitchens operating on Western New York streets.

[Look at photos from Lloyd's journey from one truck and just a few ambitious employees]

Before the “Restaurant Startup” episode aired, there had been some clues suggesting that Cimino and Dorsaneo might win.

This being Buffalo – land of no secrets – it became known that they already had leased restaurant spaces on Hertel and Elmwood avenues and Dorsaneo had confirmed they planned to open a restaurant.

In addition, Love and Bastianich had praised the owners in a brief interview with The Buffalo News after a recent news conference in Pasadena, Calif.

The final frame of Tuesday’s episode before the credits rolled noted that the Lloyd owners plan to open a restaurant April 1.

No fooling.

email: apergament@buffnews.com

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