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Friday, December 11, 2009

Owner's Decision to Shutter Laïola in Favor of Tacolicious Involved Some Ego-Checking

Posted By on Fri, Dec 11, 2009 at 12:09 PM

click to enlarge Say goodbye on New Year's Eve. - DAEMONSQUIRE/FLICKR
  • daemonsquire/Flickr
  • Say goodbye on New Year's Eve.
Owner Joe Hargrave told SFoodie the decision to relaunch Marina tapas restaurant and wine bar Laïola early next year as Tacolicious involved a bit of ego searching. "I spent my entire life in serious restaurants, and now we're opening something a little more playful," Hargrave said.

As reported at SFGate earlier today, Hargrave will say adios to Laïola (2031 Chestnut at Fillmore) after service on New Year's Eve. After a some cosmetic changes, what will emerge by early February is Tacolicious, the taco concept that's been a favorite at the Thursday street-food market at Ferry Plaza. Starting last month, Laïola turned into Tacolicious on Tuesday nights.

Hargrave said the change had more to do with passion than business. "We're not a restaurant that's failed, by any means," he said of Laïola. "We're just thinking, How can we entertain our audience." It's also clear that the trend in San Francisco restaurants generally is toward the casual and the lower priced. He said his original idea for Laïola was for a casual place. "Four years later I'm the most formal restaurant on the street," Hargrave said. "Myth, Scott Howard ― they aren't open any more. How quickly the world has changed."

Hargrave said he'll expand the Tacolicious Tuesday menu of half a dozen tacos to include up to six ceviche options, plus recurring daily specials, like $15, all-you-can-eat old-school tacos on Sundays: crispy shells, and bowls of ground beef, tomatoes, yellow cheese, the works. He's also planning to put together what he called a "really cool beverage system."

As for keeping the name Tacolicious, Hargrave said that, while he considered changing it to something more serious, he's sort of fallen in love with it. Plus, he said, "there's nothing I like better than hearing these big Marina jock-y guys saying 'Tacolicious.'"

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