For potential drive-by traffic, the soon-to-open Taco Bus restaurant near Brandon could hardly have found a sweeter spot. Not on the more-expensive Adamo Drive. Not on the even more expensive outparcel around the Westfield Brandon mall. And not on a two-lane side-street.
The spot at 301 S. Falkenburg Road is just north of Adamo Drive, near a huge Hillsborough County jail and large Hillsborough Community College campus, and aesthetically midway between Brandon and downtown Tampa. The neighborhood is packed with dozens of industrial warehouses, truck maintenance shops, steel fabricators and car dealerships.
"Everyone around here is taking I-4, I-75 or Adamo Drive," said Taco Bus owner Rene Valenzuela. "We'll catch everyone going one way or another." He points to Brandon and says thousands of people there drive into Tampa to party at Ybor City and South Howard Avenue, and many of them work in downtown Tampa and commute home. "Here, they can stop in on a breezy patio and have a burrito and a beer and relax."
Tampa has long had a soft spot in its dining heart for Taco Bus, ever since Valenzuela first converted a school bus years ago into a kitchen and parked it on Hillsborough Avenue in Seminole Heights - drawing late-night crowds, daytime lunchers and even Food Network for a TV special.
Since then, Valenzuela has converted several of the sister locations of Taqueria Monterey to the Taco Bus brand and has locations in downtown Tampa, near the University of South Florida, downtown St. Petersburg and Plant City.
The new site is on the wide lot of a former cement mixing depot and will have about 50 seats inside (including a long communal table) and about 30 on a shaded outside patio. Like other sites, it will have late hours.
The site will be open 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday through Wednesday and 24 hours a day Thursday through Saturday. If all goes according to plan, and county officials approve pending paperwork, the new location should open in about one month.