1. Arts & Entertainment

Taco Bus pulls into its new downtown Tampa home

Published Jan. 24, 2012

The wheels on the newest Taco Bus might not move, but the familiar yellow hood was a standout attraction Tuesday as the food truck favorite held a ribbon cutting for its first storefront restaurant in downtown Tampa.

It's scheduled to open to the public Wednesday at 505 N Franklin St. There's no real bus, except in the name, although a signature school bus is built into the eatery's exterior. Order takers will be at eye level.

Owner Rene Valenzuela first gained fans of his fresh Mexican offerings at his original location at 913 E Hillsborough Ave., Tampa. Then a move into the Grand Central District in St. Petersburg in 2011 was greeted with an opening week frenzy that led to the bus closing to adjust staffing for the crowds.

Will the new storefront attract the lines and praise that the originals have?

Two major forces are working in the Taco Bus' favor: Tampa Bay's recent obsession with food trucks and the restaurant's appearances on food shows. Food truck rallies have expanded the local fan base. Segments on Diners, Drive-Ins & Dives and Man v. Food have given it national cache. Food Network stars tend to travel like a herd, so once one show visits a place, others are bound to follow. One dose of publicity often leads to the next.