On Tuesday, Sept. 11, Lincoln is welcoming a new taco shop, Rusty Taco, located in the “P” District at 210 N. 14th St.
The small chain currently has 27 locations in six states, two of them in Omaha. Owner and president of the Omaha and Lincoln locations Steve Stender found an open space in the heart of downtown a year ago and started renovations right away. Stender has been in the restaurant business for over 30 years, leaving him with a wealth of experience.
“We can’t wait to have students and families come in and see what we are all about,” he said. “This is the perfect spot, just busy enough to grab hungry people walking by.”
According to Stender, Rusty Taco is all about keeping it fresh and real. Everything but the tortillas is made in-house and from scratch, from the queso to your favorite taco filler. With a fast and casual vibe, orders are taken, prepared and configured in the kitchen and picked up at the counter.
“Nothing is pre-made and that is really a big part of who we are,” Stender said. “Every morning, we prep and chop and dice and mix ingredients together to create some of the best food.”
The founder, Rusty Fenton, had the dream of serving authentic street tacos in a vibrant and lively environment. With that in mind, Stender said he hopes the family-friendly “Margaritaville” atmosphere will keep the customers wanting more. This location of Rusty Taco will be the first in the Midwest to have a fully functional bar inside. Different levels and a quirky layout accommodate those who don’t want to feel like they’re in a bar, while keeping an open concept.
There are 13 choices of tacos on the menu ranging from $2 to $5 each. Breakfast burritos are served all day, from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. Traditional sides of chips and dips are available, as are desserts like churros and sopapillas.
General manager Bob Harris worked alongside Stender throughout this entire journey. After selling his business, he thought he would help Stender with the first location in Omaha. What he thought would be a temporary place filler turned into something much more. To Harris, running a business that is all about spreading the love for tacos makes it worth it.
“I kept telling them ‘okay one more month, one more month,’ but soon I was three months in and I wasn’t sick of it, and that says something,” Harris said. “America needed more of this, and I wanted to be a part of it.”
To celebrate the Lincoln location opening, Rusty Taco will award the first 20 customers with a $25 gift certificate. Monday, Sept. 17, is “Free Taco Monday” for those who follow Rusty Taco on social media, and for its “Grand Opening Week” starting on Oct. 8, there will be food and drink specials, games and a taco-eating contest.
Rusty Taco is hoping to eventually transform its back parking lot into a tailgating space on Husker game days. With cornhole, Polish horseshoe, tables, music and a bartender, Stender and Harris believe this could be the hub for food and fun on game days.
“We just really want the fun and adventurous atmosphere to flow out into Lincoln so people can see what we really are about,” Harris said. “That kind of culture spreads.”