Service Industry

PPR cheechako taco photo 0407
Manager Nick Dubay looks over the menus at the taco shop's new location. (STAFF PHOTO/KELLI CATANA)

Cheechako Taco opens second location

By: DAN HEATH

PLATTSBURGH — Cheechako Taco has opened a second location.

Cheechako Taco owner Jamse Ward opened the new restaurant at 386 Route 3 in the Town of Plattsburgh, the former Quiznos shop, earlier this week.

“We opened April 1, which was no joke,” Ward said.

The restaurant can seat about 40 people. It has a bright interior that features a variety of fluorescent colors. 

“We un-Quiznoed it,” said Brand Manager Nick Dubay.

Ward said Cheechako Taco has been called unabashedly American in our approach to tacos, burritos and other Mexican cuisine. 

“We like to think of ourselves as a taco and burrito experiment,” he said.

The customer-based dining experience begins with the build-your-own tacos, burritos, quesadillas and salads, all served with tortilla chips and Cheechako house salsa. Diners can choose up to five of about 45 ingredients.

“It’s rare to find a place that offers some of these ingredients in a taco or burrito,” Ward said.

There is also a wide selection of Signature entrees, also available as tacos or burritos. Choices include the Anchorage, with Alaskan Surimi Krab in white-wine cream dressing with red onions, bell peppers and cheddar jack cheese; the Santa Barbara, with kahlua chicken with jalapeno cream cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, red onions and Swiss cheese; the Santa Fe, with fajita-seasoned beef with chipotle pesto cream cheese, tomatoes, red onions, rice and cheddar jack cheese; and the Los Angeles, with roasted eggplant and zucchini, carrots, black beans, zesty chipotle sauce and Swiss cheese.

Cheechako Taco also has classic and signature quesadillas and several varieties of baby burritos. 

“They are our own creation. I’ve never seen them anywhere else,” Ward said of the latter.

Breakfast burritos and breakfast tacos are also available.

The new location also features home-made ice cream.

Ward was able to secure an $11,000 grant through the Town of Plattsburgh Microenterprise Program. Part of the money was used to open the new store and part to start canning and selling their salsa throughout the North Country.

One requirement was to create at least one job for a low- to middle-income person. Ward said he has hired seven new staff members, including chef Mikey Bruley, who attended the New England Culinary Institute.

“He is our salsa production and our ice-cream production specialist,” Ward said. “He has been an invaluable asset to the expansion.”

Ward said he worked with the North Country Small Business Development Center’s Andy Allison starting last August to implement the plan for a second store.

“He definitely helped us,” Ward said.

Ward graduated from Chazy Central Rural School in 2001. He went on to receive a bachelor’s degree in philosophy and a master’s degree in English from SUNY Plattsburgh.

He toured with a band named The Slow Natives in 2005-2006, then moved back to Plattsburgh where he was the bassist in Eat.Sleep.Funk.

The original owner of Cheechako Taco was a fan of the band, and Ward was a fan of the restaurant. That led to his decision to buy the restaurant when the original owner needed to relocate.

“I said, ‘You can’t leave. I will have no place to eat,” he said.

The original restaurant at 87 Margaret St. in downtown Plattsburgh remains open. It opened in 2009 and Ward acquired it in July 2010.

There are now 21 employees.

The new Cheechako Taco is open from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. every day, excluding holidays. The original location is open 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Saturday and noon to 3 p.m. on Sundays.

Cash and major credit cards are accepted.

The restaurant also offers gift certificates. Delivery is available, with a service charge, during regular restaurant hours.

Customers can place an order online at cheechakotaco.com.

Email Dan Heath:dheath@pressrepublican.com

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