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GI taqueria expanding north, east
By Karen Carr Keefe
Lewiston will soon get its first taste of the Mexican street tacos that are the popular mainstay at Grand Island’s Taquito Lindo.
The historic Clarkson House, 810 Center St., will be the home of Taquito Lindo’s first expansion, with a target date at the end of this month.
Next up – targeted for the end of the second quarter of 2023 – there will be a third location, Williamsville Place Plaza, at 5481 Sheridan Drive.
Andrew Mackmin and his wife, Sandra Ortiz, Grand Island residents, opened Taquito Lindo at 1849 Grand Island Blvd., on June 1, 2021. Since then, they have built a loyal following of diners who appreciate their authentic artisanal tacos, fajitas and specialty margaritas. Mackmin, a Town of Tonawanda native, met his wife in Mexico, where she was studying. Many of the restaurant’s recipes are hers.
The Williamsville site, designed to be a taco lounge, has been in the planning stages for a while, but the Clarkson House was not even on their radar.
“We weren’t looking – it kind of came to us,” Mackmin said. Building owners Greg and Gerry Gismondi were looking for a new restaurant that could move into the site after the Griffin House moved to a new location on Water Street this past April. “The stars lined up,” Mackmin said. “The location is a historic landmark … built after the War of 1812.”
The Clarkson House operated as a well-regarded, steak and lobster restaurant run by the Clarkson family from 1958 through 1995.
Mackmin said he and his wife are surprised and pleased by the opportunity to open a taco bar in Lewiston.
“The Village of Lewiston has just been fantastic,” he said. “With all they do up there, it’s great. They pull a really big crowd in the summer for Artpark. They do a lot of really good festivals.” He said the Niagara River Region Chamber of Commerce has been very welcoming. “I’m very excited about doing business in that village.”
Taquito Lindo’s menu in Lewiston will focus specifically on tacos and some new appetizers. The food will be available for takeout through all the usual third-party food delivery services such as Uber Eats and DoorDash, he said. But, as with the Grand Island location, they hope customers will want to experience the ambiance of dining in and enjoying specialty tequila and mezcal cocktails, some of which have been newly developed for the Lewiston launch.
The colorful interior of the Taquito Lindo taco bar that will move into the former Clarkson House, 810 Center St., in the Village of Lewiston. (Contributed photo)
The calavera, a cultural icon of the Mexican celebration of the Day of the Dead, is part of the décor for the Taquito Lindo taco bar that will move into the former Clarkson House, 810 Center St., in the Village of Lewiston. The new restaurant site, an expansion from the flagship Grand Island location, is expected to open by the end of the month. (Contributed photo)
“We’ve created some really cool spots within the building, just kind of fun places to hang out and have a cocktail,” he said. “Traditionally, in Mexico, the taco is the after-drinks food.”
Also on the drinks menu is Pancho’s Legacy Lager, a beer brewed especially for Taquito Lindo. The restaurant partners with 12 Gates Brewing Co. of Williamsville in a project to benefit those in need. A portion of the sale of every can of the 12 Gates brew purchased in the restaurant will go to help local charities.
This year, the restaurant is donating to Harrison’s Playmakers, a foundation in Buffalo and other sites that was created by Harrison Phillips, former defensive tackle with the Buffalo Bills, who now plays for the Minnesota Vikings. His foundation helps empower children and adults with disabilities.
The specialty 12 Gates project is in honor of Ezra Castro, known as Pancho Billa, the late super fan of the Buffalo Bills. Pancho’s Legacy Lager is now served in Highmark Stadium, as well.
While Mackmin has his eye on expansion, he said the Grand Island site is still the flagship restaurant: “The success of Taquito Lindo is an Island success story.” He said because of that, it is important that they make sure to do everything they can to keep that success going.
“We’ve been really humbled by this experience. This has been a wonderful opportunity to meet and make new friends,” he said. “The Island has made this happen. I’m very proud to be part of this community.”
Andrew Mackmin, at Taquito Lindo, the Grand Island restaurant he and his wife run at 1849 Grand Island Blvd. (Photo by Karen Carr Keefe)