Tacos, Community and Beer (TCB) is a successful restaurant: A second location recently opened on Delaware Avenue in Buffalo, just south of Gates Circle.
But TCB might not even exist without a hospitality journey that was launched by a chef just up the street. For Jon McKissock, co-owner of TCB, a personal James Joyce odyssey that’s come full circle started in the late 90s, at Hutch’s restaurant.
“Hutch called me a lifer at 19,” said McKissock, referring to chef-owner Mark Hutchinson. “I did everything over there. I was the porter. I was the busboy. I was the dishwasher. Whatever the case may be. He saw something where he could count on me. But I also saw something that made me say: Man, this is cool.”
“I went back to school to get my finance degree. But I still ended up staying in this crazy business,” he added. “And now, I get to go back into the neighborhood that I always loved.”
A few years ago, McKissock was co-owning Encore Restaurant in the downtown theatre district.
The restaurant serviced the downtown business crowd, seasonal theatre crowds and rosy-faced nightlife stragglers coming up from Chippewa.
McKissock said a trip to Chicago at that time and a visit to a restaurant called El Hefe changed his thinking on Encore.
“I was sitting at this place eating fresh, authentic street tacos, and I saw it transform into this crazy, crazy nightlife vibe,” he said. “I was like, ‘Shit, maybe we could start doing tacos at Encore.’ But my partners at the time wanted to keep the menu geared toward the Shea’s crowd.
So I was like, alright I’ll put the taco concept on the back burner.”
The original TCB location opened in 2018, trafficking in the proven formula of tacos (community) and beer. That location had success on a relatively quiet stretch of Transit Road in East Amherst and the new location isn’t exactly in a bustling commercial strip either.
Located in a straw-colored, Lego stack of a building with a large panel of retro-jade green facing the street, the new TCB may require a bit of an odyssey on your part to enter. There are only a spoonful of customer parking spots in front of the building entrance. Other than that, your best bet is parking on side streets across Delaware Ave. We were told more parking is coming soon.
On our lunchtime visit, we walked into the sit-down, bar restaurant: people dressed in business-casual and one man in a suit at the bar, all talking shop. Our grilled-crisp corn tortillas were fat with taco fillings, spicy and hot. “Authentic” might be a bit of a stretch. We don’t see street tacos here in Buffalo, but if we did, these would taste like them. Behind the bar, squads of liquor bottles and a row of taps stood at attention.
As Buffalo prepares to welcome a wave of refugees from Afghanistan, it’s good to remember that we are a melting pot of Good Neighbors. A kind word and a vote of confidence can mean a lot to someone, especially coming from someone with influence.
For his part, Hutchinson isn’t done supporting his old busboy. McKissock said the classically trained chef stopped by in the early, soft opening phase to check out the new taco place.
“He likes it and said it looks like we’ve been open for months, the way things were running so well,” McKissock said. “I’ll take that because compliments can be few and far between from some of these old school guys.”
Opening Hours: Tuesday to Saturday, 11:30 a.m. – 10 p.m., Sunday and Monday CLOSED
1275 Delaware Ave Buffalo, NY 14209 • $$Mexican
Casual / Full Table Service, Fast Casual / Counter Service
Tacos, Community & Beer, or as we like to call ourselves TCB, is located in Downtown Buffalo (Gates Circle) with our first location in East Amherst, ...