File this under brand names you gotta’ love.
Taco Punk is coming to the NuLu arts and dining district on East Market Street.
It’s both a name and a concept that will fit right in to that avant-garde restaurant scene, said Taco Punk creator Gabe Sowder.
Sowder tells Insider Louisville he hopes to have his new artisan fast-food, tacos-and-salsas restaurant moved into the Toast on Market space by September.
Toast on Market owners announced recently they’re relocating a block west to the former White Oak/Artemesia space at 620 E. Market Street, with its snazzy courtyard.
Once that happens, Sowder, former chef de cuisine at 610 Magnolia, will move in to Toast’s current building at 736 E. Market St.
“I talked to (the Toast owners) a couple of weeks, ago, and they’re certain they’re going to be out by August. We hope to start moving in August 1, August 15 at the latest,” he said.
After that, Taco Punk will make a few interior finish changes, Sowder said: “We treating it as a redecoration project. There’s nothing to be done to the structure.”
Taco Punk may be a fast-food, order-at-the-counter kind of place. But it also will fit into the NuLu, field-to-table ethos.
“We are fast food, but the restaurant will be very socially conscious,” Sowder said.
All items will be prepared to order using locally produced food and fish approved under the Monterey Aquarium’s sustainable seafood guidelines, he said. There will gluten-free and vegan options.
“We will be a restaurant for everyone,” Sowder said.
His staff is hoping to structure menu prices along the lines of Panera Bread, with certain selections on a bargain menu, he said.
Sowder foresees $10 lunch plate specials such as 2 tacos, chips and side trip to the salsa bar.
Taco Punk also will have items at higher price points “because that’s the nature of getting all your food locally,” he said.
“Our menu will be more expensive than Taco Bell, but it has to be. We’re making our own tortillas, and the name of my company is even Made by Hand LLC,” Sowder said. “This is going to be a very artisanal product.”
Sowder started out wanting to do a taco-cart concept, popular in larger cities.
But after checking Metro Louisville regulations, the carts didn’t look as profitable as Sowder said he’d projected.
When he started thinking about a conventional restaurant, he decided that NuLu was better positioned than the restaurant rows on Bardstown Road in the Highlands and Frankfort Avenue through Clifton and Crescent Hill, which he described as mature business zones sandwiched in by residential areas.
Moreover, the restaurants going into the Vogue Center, The Summit, Westport Village and other areas of “make Bardstown Road and Frankfort Avenue just another destination,” Sowder said.
He sees Nulu’s positioned to be the destination for access to downtown festivals, KFC Yum! Arena and the medical complexes.
“There’s a tremendous amount of capital waiting for people to just go get it. Once (the Toast) space became available, there was no way I was going to turn that down!”
More about Taco Punk: You can sample Taco Punk in advance of the restaurant opening. Taco Punk will be a vendor at Louisvlle Brew Fest, scheduled for July 1 at the Mellwood Art and Entertainment Center, 1860 Mellwood Ave. Taco Punk also has a booth at Douglass Loop Farmers Market every Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
More about NuLu: “From Skid Row to restaurant row: Harvest, Ghyslain, Please & Thank You add to NuLu foodie corridor” (Insider Louisville.)