Artvoice: Buffalo's #1 Newsweekly
Home Blogs Web Features Calendar Listings Artvoice TV Real Estate Classifieds Contact
Previous story: Thoughts on the Buffalo Wing Festival
Next story: Small Car, Big Deal
Artvoice Weekly Edition » Issue v9n32 (08/12/2010) » Nine Questions With...

Peter Cimino & Chris Dorsaneo: Street Vendors

Get to know a Buffalonian...

In a city bereft of a real street food culture, it’s nice to know some people are out to make a difference. Pete and Chris, the brains behind Where’s Lloyd, Buffalo’s first mobile, taco-slingin’ street vendor, have brought the Southern California staple of the taco truck all the way to West Mohawk and Main Street. Unfortunately, just days after a successful opening, Lloyd needs a new engine. Luckily Artisan Kitchens (200 Amherst St.) will host a $20 all you-can-eat taco party on Friday, August 13 at 6:30pm to help keep Lloyd rolling.

How did the idea to operate a taco truck in Buffalo come to fruition?

Pete fell in love with Kogi after being introduced to it by his brother in law. Pete went to Chris with the idea over lunch at Pho 99 and we started game planning. We considered some other food ideas before finally settling on tacos because after all who doesn’t love tacos? We believe that a taco is a vessel and it can be filled with just about anything! We’ve got many more delectable ideas in store that will expand your thinking on traditional tacos.

So who is Lloyd and exactly where is he?

We named it Lloyd because we wanted to give the truck an identity. Okay, Pete’s sister came up with it! We wanted to choose a name that was fun, fresh and approachable because that’s how we view our food. Not to mention, we wanted something that was unique and hip. Exactly where is Llyod? He’s wherever our Twitter account (@whereslloyd) says he is!

What are some of the unique challenges to street vending in Buffalo? Why do you think it has been so difficult to cultivate a culture of street food in town?

Truthfully, the permitting process here is the biggest obstacle. It took many phone calls to many different offices for them to realize that we were serious. We must have been redirected or bumped off to another city employee a thousand times. We read many different cities charters and compared them to ours, because we were determined to find a way to make it work. As a result, people abandon their idea because of all the hula hooping.

Do you plan on sticking to one location or do you have other venues in mind? How prohibitive are the city’s zoning laws for street vendors?

Currently our post is at West Mohawk and Main St. via our Buffalo Place permit. We are open there for lunch from 11 am - 2 pm. We will be vending Bills home games at the corner of Abbott and Southwestern. Other locations, such as Erie Canal Harbor, Allen and Elmwood, are all in the works. We have received many mixed signals in regard to the specifics of the zoning ordinances. We hope to be meeting with Pat Sole soon to discuss ways in which we can work together with the city for developing this further.

What is your business plan for the winter months?

We will be open as long as people are willing to come to the window. So put on your mittens and scarves! Lloyd knows you love tacos even when it’s snowing. We will lean on our catering opportunities, visit business parks and other Buffalo events, like Powder Keg, Pond Hockey and possibly Sabres games.

Even Taco Bell is trying to jump on the “street food” bandwagon. What is it about the taco truck experience that seems to resonate with the consumer?

Taco Bell is making a pathetic attempt to reach these people but true foodies will clearly avoid this less than strategic marketing ploy (unceremoniously). Eating at a taco truck is as much about the event as it is about getting tasty food. So there is an element of novelty as well as a sense of being in the know. It also provides access to fresh quality food without the hefty sit down restaurant price tag and wait. Also it’s great for people on the go, especially in urban environments.

Aside from being served out the window of a truck, what makes your tacos and burritos more “authentic” than the usual Buffalo Mexican fare?

We are flattered to have been mentioned many times in the same breathe as authentic Mexican cuisine. However, we claim to be more of a fusion style eatery. We incorporate many traditional elements in our cooking but we also include our own culinary flair that features our unique flavor combinations. This makeup is what gives birth to modern cooking. So ultimately your taste buds get the best of both worlds.

Competition aside, what is one street food you would love to see catch on in Buffalo?

Let it be known that we welcome competition! We hope this turns into a kind of Buffalo street food community where people can bring their different ethic cuisines and favorite recipes to the market place. Without giving away the many ideas we have, we would honestly say we would love to see a garlic shrimp truck, the kind that are ever so popular in Hawaii.

What is one non-traditional street food that’s tastiness would be exponentially increased were it to be served out of a moving vehicle?

In Western New York we would say that chicken wings would be the obvious choice!

blog comments powered by Disqus