Originating as a gas station in the 1950s, the vacant but charming building at 5400 Troost Ave caught the attention of Lyndon and Lindsey Wade. The brothers realized it would be the perfect place to expand their California-inspired Mexican restaurant, Tiki Taco, Lyndon Wade said.
“We love the feeling of something unique and standalone,” shared Lyndon Wade, who purchased Tiki Taco on 39th Street with his brother Lindsey just two weeks before the pandemic shut down in March 2020.
Although the pandemic brought an onslaught of new challenges to the restaurant industry, Wade attributed Tiki Taco’s success to four crucial elements: a to-go business model, affordable food, loyal team and supportive neighborhood community.
“We were so heavily focused on delivery and the walk-up window, that we didn’t have to reframe our business and start over,” Wade said. “I think it was amazingly set up for this new way that restaurants are working. Our price point is very favorable and borderline sometimes cheaper than Taco Bell.
“We also have really incredible management and people who work very hard,” he continued. “We love our employees and have definitely built this sense of community, so people have stayed with us for a long time.”
Click here to check out the menu at Tiki Taco, which features the brand’s popular, curly-fry filled burritos.
The Tiki Taco team is set to celebrate the grand opening of their Troost location this summer, Wade said, adding that he is looking forward to forming relationships with the neighborhood’s residents and businesses.
“We really want to be that neighborhood spot where people feel like it is a fun, refreshing place to hang out,” Wade said — noting that Tiki Taco’s Troost location will have a patio area. “And even when we grow to multiple locations under one brand, we’re going to be very intentional about keeping the heart and individuality of each neighborhood restaurant.”
Similar to the 39th Street location, Tiki Taco on Troost will feature work from local artists. From neon signs to merchandise, the aesthetic of Tiki Taco is achieved through a collaborative artist community, Wade shared.
The menu between the two locations will also be the same, with new items and drink specials expected to be dropped throughout the summer, Wade teased.
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Tiki Taco’s Troost location is located just across the street from Rockhurst University and only a couple blocks away from University of Missouri-Kansas City, meaning more opportunities to serve late-night bites to hungry students, Wade said.
“We’re striving to build great relationships with Rockhurst and UMKC,” he said. “We’ve already talked to the head of the senior class at Rockhurst, and we’re definitely thinking of ways to wrap in students and get them stoked.”
Before the Wades bought the building on Troost, it had been sitting vacant for over a decade after a coffee shop in the space closed. The brothers have purchased rehabilitation projects and brands in the past — and feel they have a good sense for up-and-coming locations, Wade said.
“We bought our studio in East Crossroads in 2007, so long before Parlor and all those great concepts were there,” Wade said, referring to the creative studio, RW2 Productions, he founded alongside his brother and mother, Judy Rush.
The brothers also own the event space, The Guild, and the plant nursery, Paradise Garden Club, in the Crossroads Arts District, Wade said, noting that they enjoy reconceptualizing businesses and taking on rehabilitation projects.
“With my brother and I being artists, we’ve always tried to extend ourselves outside of what is considered mainstream at the moment,” Wade said. “So hopefully, we will continue to see growth within the new location’s area — especially since Troost is already a great destination with so many incredible concepts.”