When Central Taco opened its doors more than a year ago, people lined up from all over to get a taste of PJW Restaurant Group’s new Mexican concept in Haddon Township. Everyone wanted in on the beginning of this new endeavor for the company. And the company was just as eager for everyone to be a part of the excitement.
Inspired by Mexican flavors, the menu is a la carte with a bar that serves over 100 tequilas and mezcals. The restaurant preps fresh ingredients daily to be used in drinks and food, which has proved a key contributor to its success. In fact, over its first 8 months in business, Central Taco sold over 100,000 margaritas and over 200,000 tacos.
The blueprint is not big, but the operation has a huge heart. The 60-employee, six-manager team is passionate about the industry and well versed in tequilas and mezcals. (HT note: read on to learn the difference between the two.) Heady Times dropped in to find out what all the buzz is about, even after a year later, and met with General Manager Shaun Harris who shared the secret to building a fun, friendly meetup spot for freshly squeezed margaritas.
Heady Times (HT): Of course we love tequila, but what’s your beer situation?
Shaun Harris (SH): We went with Modelo Especial, a great tasting light lager for our house beer. It does really well and we include it in our happy hour daily. It’s also a special ingredient in our Asada marinade.
We have 9 rotating taps and 3 lines we keep all the time. One of the lines is Evil Genius’ Sorry Baxter I Don’t Speak Spanish, an agave IPA we renamed from the movie Anchorman and launched with Kramer.
HT: What’s the difference between tequila and mezcal?
SH: A mezcal is a spirit made of a variety of over 30 different agaves. Tequila is made from only one agave plant, the blue agave. The saying goes, “All tequilas are mezcals but not all mezcals are tequilas.”
Our house tequila is Espolon Tequila.
HT: We understand PJW Restaurant Group does community work with the Ronald McDonald house. Does Central Taco have a specific community initiative it supports?
SH: We are constantly holding dine and donates for local schools and organizations. We donate 15% of the check to the designated recipient. There are no limitations when it comes to dine-in verse takeout or food verse alcohol.
HT: Why à la carte and what can you recommend off the menu?
SH: We want people to try different things and allow them to make their own fun tasting menu. A notable dish is our tacos, which include Korean short rib, shrimp and chorizo, coconut shrimp, and even veggie.
HT: Closing thoughts?
SH: We’re not the new kid on the block anymore. We have a family vibe atmosphere and hope customers leave saying they had an awesome time and will be back next Friday.
Central Taco and Tequila is PJW Restaurant Group’s sixth concept and 23rd restaurant.