Taco Works, a taco joint popularized in Cape Coral, is expanding to its second turnkey location in downtown Fort Myers at 1617 Hendry St., Suite 102, in October. Coining the motto “purposely unauthentic,” Ozzie Morrobel and Max Curtis knew they had something special on their hands three years ago.
First launching as a food truck during the COVID-19 pandemic, Morrobel describes Taco Works’ beginnings as a great start in an unfortunate situation. Morrobel figured success during a global pandemic might mean he and Curtis were onto something, leading them to open a small Taco Works in Cape Coral. A bit more than a year later, they’re now preparing to open their new 2,000-square-foot location in the historic Richards Building.
“Max and I made a decision from the get-go,” Morrobel said. “Let’s work really hard on this. Let’s grow the brand.”
The brand’s motto is a perfect description of its diverse menu, which will be the same as the original location. Offering a variety of tacos from Morrobel’s favorite Korean beef tacos to vegan tacos, the restaurant has something for everyone. While the tacos are a hit, Morrobel says he has a lot of people coming in to ask if they have authentic tacos.
“We decided at the time that we started, we said ‘Let’s just do our own take on tacos,’” he said. “We don’t want to be authentic. We are the first ones to direct you to the right place if you want authentic.”
Their biggest seller is the street taco, or gringo taco. There’s also a Chicago beef, Philly cheese and corney bacon taco, which is slow-roasted chicken, corn and applewood smoked bacon with southwestern salsa.
On top of its robust taco selection, there also are specials, such as the Jamaican jerk and the crab Rangoon tacos. Burritos, nachos and sides are also menu items, with items ranging from $3 to $15. Everything is a la carte and it’s encouraged to try more than one type of taco while visiting.
“We have fun with it,” Morrobel said. “There are no limits to what we do with it and people like it. People ask, ‘What are they going to come up with this time around?’”
Everything is made fresh in-house and with portions that Morrobel said have nobody leaving hungry.
Regulars or past visitors of the Cape Coral location can expect the same quality of food and service, Morrobel said. The only difference between the two is the downtown Fort Myers location will have a full liquor bar, while Cape Coral just has beer and wine. The emphasis on consistency across locations is in preparation for the bigger picture in mind for Taco Works.
“Our main goal is to franchise and grow nationally,” Morrobel said. “Obviously we have to start small, but our goal is to expand to other areas around here, and then tackle the Tampa-St. Petersburg area.”
That expansion won’t be for a while, as Morrobel and Curtis are very hands-on, emphasizing quality and consistency before more expansion.
The new location is a step toward other local locations, with Morrobel having his eyes on northern Cape Coral, Bonita Springs, Estero, and Lehigh Acres.
“We might have five locations in the area and then feel confident enough to expand,” Morrobel said. “We’re thinking of the future. We want to build something.”
The passion the duo has is seen not only in the brand’s steady growth and consistent innovation but right down to the fiery colors of the Taco Works logo, which is also inspired by Morrobel’s love of the Volkswagen brand.
While the logo design was inspired by VW, it’s a dream of Morrobel and Curtis to get Taco Works known as TW.
The new location will carry on an industrial-inspired interior design and will seat a total of 60, including indoor and outdoor seating. Outdoor seating will consist of use of the outer front of the store and the side alley, which Morrobel has dubbed Taco Alley.
As far as beverages aside from the bar, Taco Works offers craft soda fountain drinks. “They’re made with real sugar, and they are delicious,” Morrobel said. “They have very unique flavors, aside from the regular cola and lime.”
A big part of Taco Works has always been catering, and that will continue on with the opening of the new location. “You can have 100 people and the only way you’re going to make every single one of them happy is with tacos,” Morrobel said.
Taco Works has a few surprises in store at the new location, which will be open daily from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., but will stay open until 3 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays.
“I’ve always wanted to have a business [in Fort Myers] from as far back as I can remember,” Morrobel said. “I’m talking 30 years ago. So, it’s finally happening. It’s a dream come true.”