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Why Lloyd Taco Factory took so long

Reality television it wasn’t.

Months after Lloyd Taco Factory’s owners accepted a deal for 25 percent of their company with television cameras watching, they changed their minds and exercised their right to turn it down, Peter Cimino and Chris Dorsaneo said.

The Lloyd owners decided to get a bank loan instead. That decision, construction delays and the decision to start a tortilla business contributed to pushing the opening of their first brick-and-mortar restaurant, at 1503 Hertel Ave., to early next week.

Peter Cimino, left, and Chris Dorsaneo celebrate the opening of their first brick-and-mortar restaurant, Lloyd Taco Factory. (Andrew Galarneau/Buffalo News)

Peter Cimino, left, and Chris Dorsaneo celebrate the opening of their first brick-and-mortar restaurant, Lloyd Taco Factory. (Andrew Galarneau/Buffalo News)

Lloyd Taco Factory’s menu includes all of the standard tacos, burritos and nachos that have made their four-truck fleet a hit in Western New York. The recipes are the same, using meat that is raised without antibiotics or hormones, and organic black beans. Truck specials like the “Dirty South,” with fried chicken and waffle crumbles, and the vegan "Skinny Thai," with fried tofu and peanut sauce, will be on the permanent taco list there. Its chef will be longtime Lloyd staffer Teddy Bryant.

Lloyd tacos, from left, are Dirty South taco, Crispy Fish taco and pork taco. (Andrew Galarneau/Buffalo News)

Lloyd tacos, from left, are Dirty South taco, Crispy Fish taco and pork taco. (Andrew Galarneau/Buffalo News)

Restaurant-only menu items will include a bacon-wrapped Sonoran Dog, a Caesar-like Cortez salad, El Santo steak skewers, and a chorizo-and-potato El Hombre quesadilla.

The Sonoran Dog ($5.59), is a Mexican hot dog that's wrapped in bacon and topped with colorful, crunchy toppings like onions, tomatoes and cilantro. (Andrew Galarneau/Buffalo News)

The Sonoran Dog ($5.59), is a Mexican hot dog that's wrapped in bacon and topped with colorful, crunchy toppings like onions, tomatoes and cilantro. (Andrew Galarneau/Buffalo News)

The Cortez Salad ($4.99) is a play off of the Caesar salad, topped with "croutons" made from sliced and deep-fried burrito tortillas. Pumpkin seeds are a nice surprise hidden within. (Ben Tsujimoto/Buffalo News)

The Cortez Salad ($4.99) is a play off of the Caesar salad, topped with "croutons" made from sliced and deep-fried burrito tortillas. Pumpkin seeds are a nice surprise hidden within. (Ben Tsujimoto/Buffalo News)

El Santo Skewers ($8.59) have seven-spice rubbed steak, char-grilled with scallion and served with piquillo vinaigrette. (Andrew Galarneau/Buffalo News)

El Santo Skewers ($8.59) have seven-spice rubbed steak, char-grilled with scallion and served with piquillo vinaigrette. (Andrew Galarneau/Buffalo News)

The full bar features a list of craft cocktails and tequilas, though mezcal will be a specialty, said bar manager Yuri Polyachenko.

The cocktail list from Lloyd Taco Factory includes a likely favorite in the Snozzberry Mule, plus complex Gin and Juice Punch, which can be ordered by the glass ($8) or pitcher ($28). (Ben Tsujimoto/Buffalo News)

The cocktail list from Lloyd Taco Factory includes a likely favorite in the Snozzberry Mule, plus complex Gin and Juice Punch, which can be ordered by the glass ($8) or pitcher ($28). (Ben Tsujimoto/Buffalo News)

Queen City Shaken & Stirred helped shape the menu and training standards, and Cimino spent nights behind the bar at Buffalo Proper, alongside General Manager Jon Karel, learning how to run a beverage program, Cimino said.

The well-stocked bar area at Lloyd Taco Factory, at 1503 Hertel Ave. (Andrew Galarneau/Buffalo News)

The well-stocked bar area at Lloyd Taco Factory, at 1503 Hertel Ave. (Andrew Galarneau/Buffalo News)

Left is the Gin and Juice Punch ($8) and right is the Chic-a-Cherry Cola ($10) from Lloyd Taco Factory. (Ben Tsujimoto/Buffalo News)

Left is the Gin and Juice Punch ($8) and right is the Chic-a-Cherry Cola ($10) from Lloyd Taco Factory. (Ben Tsujimoto/Buffalo News)

It’s been a long journey for Dorsaneo and Cimino since they celebrated their “Restaurant Startup” appearance at the North Park Theatre on Feb. 10. In an episode of CNBC’s “Restaurant Startup,” Dorsaneo and Cimino accepted a proposal of $250,000 in exchange for 25 percent of their company.

Mexicali spring rolls ($3.59) from Lloyd Taco Factory arrive with two different sauces -- a spicier roja (same vein as Rocket Sauce) and a zesty fish sauce (left). (Ben Tsujimoto/Buffalo News)

Mexicali spring rolls ($3.59) from Lloyd Taco Factory arrive with two different sauces -- a spicier roja (same vein as Rocket Sauce) and a zesty fish sauce (left). (Ben Tsujimoto/Buffalo News)

After four months of further research and meetings with restaurant investors Tim Love and Joe Bastianich, the Lloyd owners decide to pass, for now, they said.  “In the fine print, what happened on the show wasn’t legally binding,” Dorsaneo said, acknowledging that the show could have left another impression. (There is a disclaimer at the end of the show, noted Cimino.)

“We wanted to wait until we were open to make the announcement that we didn’t take the investment,” Cimino said.

The chorizo-based El Hombre quesadilla ($6.99) is an adaptation of a regular Lloyd special in quesadilla form. Note the generous heap of pickled red onions. (Ben Tsujimoto/Buffalo News)

The chorizo-based El Hombre quesadilla ($6.99) is an adaptation of a regular Lloyd special in quesadilla form. Note the generous heap of pickled red onions. (Ben Tsujimoto/Buffalo News)

In the meantime, the question of what kind of tortillas Lloyd should use – an issue aired on the show – led the partners to pursue making their own. They formed a company with John and Kristi Mora, called Lloyd Tortillas Inc.

(Andrew Galarneau/Buffalo News)

From left, Chris Dorsaneo, John Mora, Kristi Mora and Peter Cimino with the corn grinder that's making masa. (Andrew Galarneau/Buffalo News)

John Mora is Mexican, from Teocuitatlan de Corona in Jalisco, with relatives in the tortilla business, he said. At Lloyd Taco Factory, Mora is overseeing the production of masa and tortillas from corn kernels. The corn is soaked in a lime solution and hulled, a process called nixtamalization, which frees the corn’s nutrients and makes it possible to form the ground corn into usable tortillas.

The tortilla-making machine in action, as perfectly shaped corn tortillas are cut into circles and grilled lightly. (Ben Tsujimoto/Buffalo News)

The tortilla-making machine in action, as perfectly shaped corn tortillas are cut into circles and grilled lightly. (Ben Tsujimoto/Buffalo News)

At present, the tortillas, made on machines visible behind glass in the Lloyd Taco Factory dining room, will only be used in the restaurant. Eventually the Lloyd tortillas and fresh masa dough will be available for sale, Cimino said.

Send your restaurant news to agalarneau@buffnews.com

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