International spots offer alternatives to turkey.
For Zack Shell, it turns out the soft-opening launch of his new business, Baby Loves Tacos on Liberty Avenue in Bloomfield that is the culmination of the 35-year-old’s life’s work to date, is only the second-most exhilarating and stressful thing to happen to him this week.
He’s getting married today, too.
The Forest Hills native and Woodland Hills graduate (he was a standout soccer player there) spent 15 years in Philadelphia, first as a student at Temple, then working in the restaurant industry around the city, including a few well-regarded taco and burrito joints. He boomeranged back home with his fiance and young son a year and a half ago, intent on bringing his taco prowess back to his hometown.
“We did really well. We were just at a point professionally and as a family that we decided let’s go for it, let’s do it. We sold our house and moved out here,” he said. “Pittsburgh has changed so much – It was time.”
He did pop-ups, private events and catering while he scouted the city. Provenance struck on a drive up Liberty Avenue. He saw a vacant storefront, pulled his car in front of Tessaro’s and called the number on the sign. The building’s owner was on site. They talked for an hour, and a deal was quickly inked.
“It’s been really awesome,” he said. “I had a pretty clear idea of what I wanted to do food-wise.”
The name was meant to have a fun connotation — evoking an image a tyke with a taco or the old dice game exhortation — baby needs a new pair of shoes!
“It’s an accessible place. You can bring your kids here and we’ll feed ‘em, no problem, or you can bring your girlfriend,” he said. “Our goal is to make food we’d eat. I won’t make anything that I wouldn’t eat. In terms of flavor profiles, I am not attempting to be a traditional authentic Mexican style taco place. We have some of those in Pittsburgh already that are pretty good.
He hopes to develop a taco truck or cart concept, and he’s partnered with a nonprofit after-school meals program in Wilkinsburg.
“Our hope is to have a few revenue streams but also to have a few different things that we’re doing in the community as well.”
Baby Loves Tacos: 4508 Liberty Ave., Bloomfield; 267-973-9295; http://www.babylovestacospgh.com.
Dan Gigler: email@example.com; Twitter @gigs412