Sunday, Sept. 3, 2023 | 2 a.m.
Despite Tacotarian expanding beyond its original storefront in downtown Las Vegas to three other locations around the valley, co-founder Kristen Corral says she still has customers asking for an additional location of the plant-based Mexican eatery closer to their own neighborhood.
Las Vegas, she said, just isn’t as small as it may seem.
“When it boils down to it, people stay close to their 1- to 5-mile radius around where they live or work,” Corral said.
Tacotarian isn’t the only downtown Las Vegas staple to expand to residential areas.
Jared Uy, an operations manager at Makers & Finders, said the coffee shop and restaurant’s newest location in Henderson — which is up and running, and had a formal grand opening this weekend — has made a world of difference. It’s a few doors down from the Tacotarian on Valle Verde Drive.
“Some of my other staff members commuting from Henderson to downtown Las Vegas have now transferred to the Henderson location due to the convenience,” Uy said. “And we still offer the same culture; it’s just a lot easier to be somewhere that’s in the neighborhood.”
Josh Molina, co-founder and CEO of Makers & Finders, said he wanted to bring the creative spirit of the company’s flagship location in the Las Vegas Arts District to suburban areas, which also allows those customers to avoid the hassle of traveling downtown.
There’s typically a lot more chain retail than locally owned business in the suburbs, so Molina says he loves to see the reaction of customers at the Makers & Finders offshoots in Henderson, Summerlin and Chinatown.
“In Henderson, we have a local community, and they welcomed us with open arms,” Uy noted. “And it’s cool joining that type of community, and then actually being a part of it. We’ve gotten a lot of feedback (from) customers saying this community needed a place like this.”
Molina emphasized the vision for Makers & Finders is contingent on the community, and the business has different hours, seating arrangements, staffing and more inits various locations, to meet the different needs of each community.
For example, he’s learned that visitors to the Henderson location enjoy coming in for happy hour and taking advantage of different deals, while Summerlin customers just love a good time. Meanwhile, the Arts District location has become something of a creative haven for its customers.
Molina said he wanted Makers & Finders to continue to grow, especially in an effort to create spaces for different communities.
“I think that’s what we really do for our customers, for the ones that really love us,” he said. “ … They feel energized when they come here, and they walk out happy. So, if we can make that happen even for one person — mission accomplished.”
It’s a similar narrative for Tacotarian, which also has expanded to San Diego.
Tacotarian ultimately set up shop in different parts of the Las Vegas Valley so that more people could have easy access to the restaurant’s vegan, Mexican food, and Corral credited its rapid growth and success to its widespread appeal.
The shop is definitely in “growth mode,” she added, saying that the overall goal is to expand further into other states.
“Especially now, as the valley continues to grow and grow and grow,” she said. “We have so many people moving here every day that we want to be able to give people access to, obviously, the largest selection of vegan tacos in the universe.”
Molina said he predicted many other downtown businesses would be on their way to expanding beyond their current space.
Other stores have also expanded from their original locations. Among them: Pizza Rock inside Green Valley Ranch Resort in Henderson; Casa Don Juan to Sunset Road in Henderson and another location on Buffalo Road in northwest Las Vegas, and Bajamar Seafood & Tacos to southwest Las Vegas on Blue Diamond Road.
“I really feel like these entrepreneurs, these independent owners, are really going to be the face of the city in the future,” he said. “And it’ll hopefully attract more people to want to come and participate and grow together, because we know how fast Vegas is growing, and just to be a part of that is incredible.”
Though the growth process comes with its own set of unique challenges, he said, it also provides the business with more opportunities to learn.
“And when you start learning so frequently, so often, so much — you really want to have a platform to apply those things,” he said. “So, I think that, more and more, we want to be able to challenge ourselves so that we continue to grow and learn.
Makers & Finders has established a strong enough foundation that people from across town are familiar with the shop, Uy said, and support from locals has been essential in growing the business.
One of the biggest challenges of expansion is maintaining the culture of a business from one location to another, Uy said, so that’s been a priority of Makers & Finders both in regards to staff and customers.
“We make sure that it’s consistent,” Uy said. “And we don’t want the staff members to forget who we are and what we’re about. And we want to make sure that they’re relaying that to our customers, as well, because the culture of Makers & Finders is very important to us.”