After seven years delivering tacos by bike, Taco Cat is closing.
The taco takeout business with a food truck and a stand at Midtown Global Market will serve its last meals at the end of September, when its lease on the Market space runs out.
Co-owner Tristan Jimerson said there were multiple factors at play, but the main reason to call it quits was safety for himself, his co-owner Daniel Laeger-Hagemeister, and their employees.
The co-owners “work in the restaurant every day we’re open,” Jimerson said. “We’re definitely in there, and neither of us wants to die for this company. We don’t want our employees to get sick. It’s really hard to ask anyone, ‘Hey, do you want to risk your life to deliver food for people?’”
Taco Cat only reopened about a month ago, after closing down at the beginning of the pandemic. That time off gave the owners a chance to reevaluate the business.
“Once we were closed, we were trying to figure out what the future looked like for the restaurant,” Jimerson said.
He didn’t like what he saw ahead: slow summer business, no booth at the State Fair, and — brutal for any restaurant, pandemic or not — the looming winter months.
With the lease about to expire, it made sense to close up for good, Jimerson said. The business had no outstanding debts. “We’re able to step back and walk away on our terms,” he said.
But Jimerson doesn’t blame the pandemic alone. Since its founding, the bike-only taco-delivery service never used third-party delivery apps. He estimates that Taco Cat ultimately lost about 65% of its delivery business as services like Door Dash and Bite Squad flourished.
“The way of the independent delivery company was coming to an end anyway,” he said.
The good news is that fans still have about a month to get their Taco Cat favorites. It’s open for delivery and pickup, 4 p.m. to 8 p.m., Thursday through Saturday at Midtown Global Market, 920 E. Lake St.
“It’s been a fantastic experience,” Jimerson said. “The community on Lake Street has been so supportive and so wonderful. I hope that the people who like our food continue to eat at other restaurants in the area.”