Tacuba Taco Bar, located in Branford Center, will be open for just one more weekend, making room for a new restaurant to kick off the new year.

The new restaurant will be The Beach and Barn Bar and Bistro. According to owner Suzette Franco Camacho, it will feature a “great laid back bar atmosphere, and a cozy dining room with a great menu for every day eating at very approachable price point.”

Tacuba opened over 2 years ago to rave reviews, taking some publications “best of” honors as a taco destination and new restaurant. But it faced traffic issues that many local restaurants face: packed weekends, but slow weeknights.

And while packed weekends are always good, the inconsistencies create major issues with hiring staff and preparation needs.

The owners, Suzette and Franco Camacho, are Branford residents and are committed to making a restaurant work here in their hometown. Previously, they owned successful ventures in New Haven, Roomba and Bespoke.

But Branford, a bedroom community, offers a drastically different demographic than the ever changing landscape of New Haven. Inspired by the kitchen skills of Franco and strong word of mouth, reservations at Roomba were often weeks out. Weeknights were often packed, and business was good.

But while New Haven is known for higher end restaurants and has the constant turnover, largely due to Yale, of potential customers, the Camacho’s are hoping to better meet the needs of the Branford demographic by creating a more American menu, albeit with the skill of Franco in the kitchen.

Branford has already received a glimpse of what a world class chef can do with a more standard American menu with Seawich. The popular lunch spot has been open just a few months and has already created a loyal list of regulars do to Franco’s take on some common sandwiches, grilled cheeses, salads and specialty items. 

But for those still craving Tacuba tacos, there is a possibility of a takeout area created specifically for some of the more popular items from Tacuba, or even having the tacos added to the menu at Beach and Barn.

As for the owners, they want to be sure the Branford community knows how much they appreciate your support.

“We will need everyone to help us spread the word and of course, we would appreciate your support and patronage. For the many of you who have loyally followed us on this journey- we continue because of your belief in us!” writes Suzette. “Thank you.”

Tacuba will be opened Thursday, Friday and Saturday this week. It is located at 1205 Main Street in Branford. For reservations, call (203) 208-0736.

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(24) comments

Anonymous

OK, so are they hoping to get less busy weekends and the same week night traffic? Unless you run some big specials, Nobody goes out on Mon or Tues, and it picks up a little each night until Saturday.
And I could never tell when Tacuba or the Seawich were open. Traffic issues don't seem to be a problem at Shoreline.

Steve Mazzacane Staff
Steve Mazzacane

Seawich isnt changing, it will still be open for lunch as it is now. It is doing quite well during the day. During the day there is a constant flow of people as many work in the area. After 5, it gets pretty empty. the goal with switching Tacuba, a Mexican manu, to the new place and a more American menu is that people go out to traditional more often. for example, one may want a certain high end mexican dish once every few weeks or month, but they may have pork chops or a burger multiple times over that same time span. In a town like Branford, the owners felt a move to a warmer, more traditional, casual atmosphere, and American menu is more wanted at this point.

Anonymous

Until the ownrs lopse the snotty overbearing attitude of themselves and their employees, Branford will vote with its dollars. How about a joint venture with th gun store?

Anonymous

I like the place (great place to bring dates) for they have that NYC hip thing going...HOWEVER, I never really like committing myself to them for they never stick to one thing for a very long time...same reason I can't watch TV shows until the 3rd year (for I know they have been around, good and committed, etc)

Good place to go 5 to 10 times a year but not like other restaurants where I know they will alway be there...

Too much change in the owners for long term...hopefully as they age they will commit and stay with one thing with slight changes...I.S.

tacubataco

While we appreciate your feedback very much, to suggest that we are not committed it just simply not true. I know few other people but those in the restaurant business that work 7 days a week, both night and day - fully committed to the needs of the business. Do you really think our decision to change is based on lack of commitment? I promise you it isn't, it is simple economics. The financial demands of operating a restaurant are huge, will perishable items and seats you can't fill again every time the weather is bad. Heavy overhead expenses and only a few hours a day when people eat. So, unfortunately you are left with a choice to lose money hoping and waiting for more traffic, or try to listen to the community and see what they want instead. That is what we hope to achieve, to give Branford the kind of place they want. Certainly if everyone share the thought of coming just 5 times a year, nothing could survive.

Anonymous

While the food at all of their various concepts has been good and worth the money in my experience, I wish the owners of these places would stop blaming the public for their lack of business. As another commenter stated, Shoreline is right next door and doesn't seem to have a problem with traffic. I attempted to eat at Water House one busy night but was very harshly told by the female owner - why does she always seem so unhappy and mean? - they were no longer serving because they were too busy and understaffed (despite several empty tables). Could it be that their lack of business is due to their inability to embrace and properly serve customers on busy nights? If a restaurant requires reservations (either through policy or practice) it will never end up being anything more than a "special occasion" place in Branford. The last time I ate at Tacuba (love the fish tacos!) I had to listen to the owner complain about lack of business very loudly - not a very relaxing dinner atmosphere - and I haven't been back since. Slapping together a new restaurant concept in a week and posting the announcement on Facebook does not seem like a great solution. Best of luck to them, like I said their food really is great, but I expect to see that space empty in the next year.

tacubataco

Dear Anonymous- Like our neighbor and friends at shoreline, our day time business traffic is very strong, that is when the majority of people are out and about in this part of town. Neither Waterhouse or Tacuba ever required reservations, they were offered in addition to us always taking walk ins. If you walked in at a time where it was too busy, or short from a staff member calling out, and we risked giving bad service due to the volume all at once, I am sure you were told that we couldn't serve you. We aren't here just to take peoples money. We actually want to be able to give people everything they deserve and expect. If we are unable to do this for reasons beyond our control, we would much rather be open and honest and tell you up front- hey , we won't be on our game tonight- then have you leaving even more angry. There is a reality when week nights in town ( not just here) our extremely quiet . To get a full time staff in an area lacking hospitality staff, when you can only count on weekends for steady traffic is a difficulty we are always working through. Would be happy to talk more about it in person should you want to come on in for a drink on us.

Anonymous

Please, please, please stop opening restaurants in Branford. The concepts have all failed and the restaurant turnover (1yr or less) makes Branford look like it cannot sustain restaurants. It's not Branford- it's the owners. The prices are too high, who wants to pay $15 for three tacos? The owners have their hearts in the right place, but either Branford is not the town for them or restaurant ownership is not the right business. Suburban- lasted a year, maybe two, Swill- a month? Tacuba- two years. Seawich- maybe just stick with that. Opening another restaurant is not going to change the fact that the first three have not done well at all. Maybe work on one place instead of just shutting down and opening more.

tacubataco

Anonymous at 7:53- it is so easy to be cruel and hide behind an anonymous post- you have no idea what you are talking about and you are just mean. Post your name here if you are so confident in publically speaking- or at least know what you are talking about. There are many restaurants struggling and or for sale in Branford- no one is retiring or getting wealthy here. Same is true for retail in town. Lots of hard working people who invested in Branford- and no one deserves this negativity. This is our life and our livelihood- and not you or your words will deter us from continuing forward. Thankfully there are many kind and supportive people in town that support us !

Ty Wenger

Hey, Anonymous... You don't have to be mean about it... The folks behind Tacuba are clearly trying their best, and we should appreciate the fact that they've given our town such great restaurants. What they're attempting to do is obviously more challenging than restaurants that aim for mediocrity. It's easy to criticize. Instead, try appreciating what they've been giving us.

Steve Mazzacane Staff
Steve Mazzacane

With this site and business, ive been extremely fortunate to get to know a variety of businesses owners in Branford. What has struck me is how much each and every one of them invests in town to open a business. Clothing stores, restaurants, mechanics, car dealerships: all require investments that run into the hundreds of thousands to open. A good business person then needs to adapt and change based on the demand in the community. The owners of Tacuba (which was named best taco place in the state last year, by the way) and WaterHouse (named one of the best new restaurants) have seen what demand exists locally and are adapting. Tacuba was too specialized: it was amazing food, yet locals only want to eat at an authentic Mexican restaurant so often, and it had to fight being compared with more "American-Mexican" that we have a lot of here in town. So they are adapting. That comes at a cost, but it also makes business sense. What we need now are more people who are willing to invest in Branford, put their life savings into this town, and work, as every restaurant owner I know does, around the clock to make it work. While it seems easy to criticize, and one has every right, it can be done in a constructive manner, and with us cheering them on to success. It seems amazing to me that the complaints aboput a potentila Costco coming in have been that we will lose our small town feel, but then when we have something truly "small-town," Branford residents investing their life savings to make a Branford business work, we want to attack it. We can do better as a community to support our local businesses, not disparage them. Constructive criticism is great and often helpful, but anonymous attacks are clearly from those with no concept what it takes to open a small business.

Anonymous

The restaurant business is just a very competitive market as the owners have said with so many restaurants in town and the thing that makes Branford special is there are no chain restauarants besides the fast food places. They are all locally owned so if you eat out in Branford you are supporting local owners and are investing in Branford.

Anonymous

While I don't doubt their heart is in it, they just seem to have a lot or turnover. I don't see a lot of advertising of these restaurants. Are they just lunch, just dinner? When you drive by, you can't tell if they are open. They are kind of just tucked in between doors. I know all of the sports leagues are always looking for sponsorships and the high school teams are always looking for ads. These get you connected to hundreds of families, they work. And there is a price point issue. There are too many restaurants in Branford, to not give a good portion at a reasonable price. Yes quality matters, but only so many people in a small town will be willing to pay a premium for very good, when they can get larger good portions at the same or lower prices.

tacubataco

Hi anonymous- we have and do support many school activities and teams
( swimming, dance, the musicals, the plays, project graduation, car washes, etc, schools dances, the soup stroll) and while we do it to support our community, the school fundraisers don't translate to customers- but we support them any way . We would love to do everything that comes our way, but there is a financial reality. The only way the small local businesses can support all of the fundraising needs in town, is to be supported by the community. In terms of advertising, we have tried shoreline times which yielded no result for us , and instead focus on both online ads ( the e-list, Branford seven, facebook promotions) and word of mouth. We also do a lot of outreach. We recently donated lunches for offices of 10-12 people daily all around town. This ranged from car dealers, insurance agents, doctors offices, spas, stores, garages, you name it. We do what we can with the budget we have. Where would you look for a restaurant to be advertised? Would love to hear. While we are a town, we are 30,000 people of broad demographics- many going out to eat or taking food home. I hope that quality ingredients, healthy preparations and skill are valued over just portions- although our portions are very substantial. I feel we offer both taste and value. Hope the town is willing to give us a try ..

Anonymous

to anon 10:49...SBC is here, Five Guys is on the way and the fast food places ARE the competition. Locally owned is great, but a combination of quality and value is what gets and keeps the everyday customers coming back. Tommy Sullivan's is nothing to look at and won't show up in any decorating books, but, my wife and I love it and go at least 2 times a month. Good food, good value, friendly staff. That is where my dollar goes.

Anonymous

What we really need is another Websters. Remember Websters? Great lunches, dinners and sandwiches at resonable prices. It was affordable. You were always welcomed there.

Frederick

To all the anonymous naysayers and critics..If you want to be fair and criticize any business, you should solicit its services first. If it's a restaurant.. go in an have a meal or two. Then, at least, you will have a basis for legitimate criticism. I was at Seawich this afternoon and not only did I have a great lunch... I got to chat with Steve Mazzacane (owner of Branford 7), our First Selectman Jamie Cosgrove and the owner of Waste Tech,the refuse company who carts Town refuse while I was there. You don't a much better "small town feel" than that when you get to chat with people who serve the residents of Branford and sit and break bread at the same place that you frequent. My suggestion... stop driving by and stop inside. You will find a great group of people ready to serve you good food along with genuine friendly hospitality. It was well worth the trip today for me. The Burrata cheese with pesto dressing and drizzled olive oil cooked under a panini press was delicious. It's worth the visit.

Dave915

Beach and Barn Very Good! Had dinner last night (Friday). It was very busy. Grilled Sandwich was great, Tomato Soup, Cheese Plate all very good and fair value. I liked the atmosphere. Comfortable bar. I will be back and tell friends. Congrats to owners Suzzette & Franco you are truly intrepid, hardworking Entrepreneurs...dave

Anonymous

I wonder how much (a) restricted parking and (b) lack of a "critical mass" of a variety of different things to do in the same locale contribute to the heavy turnover? it would be nice to have a sequence of places to go in the same evening instead of one spot trying to draw people to a single location.

Anonymous

We loved Tacuba and were very sad to hear of it's passing. It was great to have this one of a kind restaurant locally, in my opinion there are far too many "American style" restaurants (not to mention the over abundance of Italian restaurants). Might as well just eat at home. There is an American Style restaurant very close to our home, so if we want that kind of food, we won't bother driving the extra distance to the new restaurant. We will miss you Tacuba! -Don J

Anonymous

Ive been wondering why the branford seven only reviews and posts about Suzette and Arturo Franco-Camachos restaurants and other than that not many others seems very strange???

Anonymous

Loved to read your blog. I would like to suggest you that traffic show most people read blogs on Mondays. So it should encourage blogger to write new write ups over the weekend primarily

ParkerSmith

Both restaurants seem to be wonderful. I hope that this bar and bistro will be even more successful.

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EdwardsCollins

I am especially enamoured of Pepi's Bar. Hungarian ghoulash is such a great food.

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