This past Victoria Day, the owners of Dos Tacos celebrated 10 months in business along Richmond Row by enjoying something they haven’t had much for more than a year — an actual day off work.
“It was the first time in a long time we were able to relax. It’s been an interesting journey from the beginning until now,” said co-owner Asaad Naeeli. “When we first started out it was nine people, but we had to add more because we’ve been busy since we opened. We have 13 employees now . . . there has been a lot of demand.”
Dos Tacos opened up at 611 Richmond St. after Naeeli joined his fellow co-owner Zaid Farid in a trip to California.
While there, visiting Farid’s brother, they were shown around a number of taco places and they came away inspired to share that kind of flavour in the Forest City.
The two friends started discussing the idea in earnest in September 2016 and by January 2017 they’d signed a lease and were hard at work on converting what had been a retail store into a restaurant space.
Renovations took seven months to complete, largely because they had to actually build themselves a kitchen.
And while they could have found a space that already had one, they were specifically interested in their space along Richmond Street.
“Location for us was very important. We wanted to be on Richmond Row, on this part, between all the bars. We’re open late on weekends to capture that crowd,” Naeeli said. “There are a lot of businesses around here, so we’re able to capture that lunchtime rush. It’s a 30-second walk to Victoria Park. Location was very important for us, just as important as the menu, the quality of the food, the price. Everything has to be a perfect balance to work out.”
While other restaurants offer tacos, Naeeli said they’re just items on a much larger menu.
Dos Tacos, however, is dedicated to the idea of making “authentic, gourmet tacos.” That said, the eatery also features Carne asada fries (basically a bed of fries, with the meat and toppings on top of it), along with a salad option as well.
Response to the restaurant has been “really great,” he adds, but in the early days it did involve he and Farid working some 14 hours a day. A few months in the two started to alternate opening and closing, which provided them a bit of a break.
Even so, finding time to unwind is something Naeeli takes seriously.
For one, he has a good group of friends who have been supportive since day one and even come down to hang out when he’s stuck at work.
Naeeli jokes he used to have more time to play more video games and do a little reading, but mostly it’s about finding time to hang out with his friends and do a little bowling.
It helps when the weather is nice, and the friends are able to put up some chairs out back of the restaurant and just relax.
“I haven’t had much time to relax last summer or this year, but I like going to the beach. As long as the weather is nice and I’m outside, I’m happy,” he said. “If I’m not keeping myself busy, that’s when you start to worry, start to overanalyze things. I was that way even in a corporate setting, a 9-5 job. Busy is good.”