Co-owners Cary Harris, Doug Riddle, Brent Sonnemaker and Daniel Stern, dubbed the Skeleton Crew, opened Rountree neighborhood’s newest eatery Aug. 6. Team Taco is housed in the bright red building along Cherry Street near the intersection with Pickwick Street. Inside the snug 400-square-foot space, employees dish up tacos, nachos and rice bowls and mix up craft cocktails.
Sonnemaker said the vision for the eatery began across the street at Tie & Timber Beer Co.
“We would sit over there and have beers and we’d say, ‘Man I could go for some tacos,’” he said. “The beauty of Springfield is it’s a blank slate that you can do whatever you want. I’ve lived in New York City and went to school in Colorado, and it’s not like that everywhere.”
They identified the former home of Elle’s Patisserie. Sonnemaker said his family business, Cherry Street United LLC, purchased the building in June 2018 and began making renovations to the one-time gas station. Sonnemaker, Stern and Riddle knew each other from operating downtown’s Social on Patton, which closed this summer.
“Running Social, it was fun, but it was not our passion,” he said. “We decided to do some things that we really enjoy doing. It’s such a fun little neighborhood spot.”
Sonnemaker said the menu reflects chef Stern’s effort to put an American twist on traditional Mexican street tacos. The menu features five staple tacos, such as the beef brisket B.A. Baracus, grilled chicken Redbird and vegetarian Groundskeeper. Recent rotating specials included a twist on avocado toast and a taco featuring duck confit.
“We’re not trying to pigeonhole ourselves,” Sonnemaker said.
Everything is made fresh on-site, he said, except the corn tortillas, which are not feasible in the tight space. The team has crafted its own cocktail menu, he said, and there’s a special drink every week on Tuesday, called “Taco Boozeday.” They even have their own beer, Skeleton Brew, which was made in partnership with Tie & Timber.
In Team Taco’s nearly monthlong existence, Sonnemaker said he’s been wowed with the response.
“We were ready for it. We knew it was going to be a hit,” he said. “It’s only going to get crazier as this area grows.”
He said next on the agenda is upgrading the outdoor seating area.
“We tried to make an accessible neighborhood spot that people can escape to. We’re giving people permission to have fun,” he said.
A pair of area medical colleges that received state grant funding in the fall are now investing the funds toward technology and new programs with the intent of attracting more students to the nursing profession.