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Lloyd Taco owners reject reality TV show deal for loan

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 grand opening of their first brick-and-mortar restaurant, at 1503 Hertel Ave., to Dec. 21.

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 raised without antibiotics or hormones, and organic black beans.

Its chef will be longtime Lloyd staffer Teddy Bryant.

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

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

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.

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 the CNBC show, Dorsaneo and Cimino accepted a proposal of $250,000 in exchange for 25 percent of their company.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Schimschack’s certificates: The owner of now-closed Schimschack’s said last week he hopes to refund gift certificates unspent before the restaurant’s sudden October closing.

James J. Marinello said bankruptcy is a possibility, but he is in mediation with the state Attorney General’s Office regarding consumer complaints filed over gift certificates.

“What we’re trying to do is get the capital to do it,” he said of his intention to make the refunds. “I’ve been in business my entire life. I never didn’t pay a bill.”

That streak ended when Marinello, 73, got in too deep with his suppliers and creditors. He said he owes $200,000 to $250,000 in business debts. He pulled the plug Oct. 26 after 39 years of ownership, putting 32 people out of work.

It’s not unusual for restaurants to close suddenly and leave gift certificates unfulfilled, but customers who contacted The Buffalo News about the issue said they had not been able to get in contact with anyone about refunds.

One customer told The News that he bought a gift certificate two days before Schimschack’s closed, when Marinello must have known the end was near. Marinello denied that, contending that he stopped selling gift certificates more than a week before the shutdown.

If certificates were sold when the management knew that the restaurant was closing, it would be a deceptive practice and investigated, said Casey M. Aguglia, a spokeswoman for the state Attorney General’s Office. Those with gift certificates would have creditor’s rights in a bankruptcy, Aguglia added.

Now, the property is for sale. Hopefully someone will pay enough for it to allow him to pay off his debts, Marinello said. - Thomas J. Prohaska

Orchard Park bistro: Homegrown, a bistro with a locally focused menu, is coming to the present site of Two Sisters in Orchard Park.

Kathryn Gordon, a Lackawanna native, will be opening her first restaurant. She has returned to Western New York after extensive experience in the hospitality business in the Maryland area.

The restaurant, 4211 N. Buffalo Road, will start out serving breakfast and lunch, Gordon said. Paninis, sandwiches, soups and crepes will be part of the program. The menu will be gluten-free-friendly, as well.

There are about 40 seats. No alcohol is planned at present.

Two Sisters’s last day in service will be Dec. 29. Gordon plans to open in early January, if all goes well, she said.

Dug’s Dive replacement: A longtime Buffalo restaurateur will be taking over the former Dug’s Dive in Safe Harbor Marina.

Chuck Goodspeed, who runs Brick Oven Bistro and the Mess Hall in South Buffalo, plans to operate the restaurant from spring to November each of the next two seasons, with possible year-round service after that.

The kitchen will be upgraded and the patio expanded for the coming season.

Goodspeed said he and his wife plan to make the restaurant an affordable waterfront destination.

Menu offerings will feature fresh seafood, flatbread pizzas, build-your-own burgers, salads, sandwiches, a kids menu and daily specials. Breakfast will be served on Saturdays and Sundays. - Mark Sommer

Getzville family: A family restaurant called 2 Forks Up opened in Getzville the week before Thanksgiving.

The building, at 3175 Millersport Highway, was formerly the Getzville Grille, and before that, DACC’s. The first day was Nov. 20, said Al Green, the general manager.

It’s the first restaurant for owner William Podgurski, a longtime chef, Green said.

“It’s casual family dining, but not just bar food,” Green said. “We have steaks, roast chicken, seafood.” Where DACC’s was fine dining and Getzville Grill was more bar food, 2 Forks aims in between, for casual dining.

The restaurant will serve lunch and dinner every day but Monday. It has about 48 seats, and a full bar.

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