Next week, downtown Raleigh’s El Taco Cartel taco cart will roll out an appetizing new feature: tacos, delivered on demand.
Founders Justin Miller and Lily Ballance are launching a bike-driven delivery service, where customers within a mile of the original taco cart’s perch at the 500 block of Fayetteville Street can text in their order. A cyclist will then deliver tacos directly to customers at their offices or apartments.
“The bigger bike just isn’t really the most accessible in terms of being able to move around easily, because of size restrictions,” Miller explains. “We saw this as a cool opportunity. We still have the mothership downtown, but then we have this little guy that can easily get around.”
Here’s how it works: The customer texts the delivery rider’s number. The rider responds with the day’s meat and vegetarian options. The customer replies with their order, and the rider retrieves it from either the taco cart or the commissary at Five Star. The rider then bikes the order to the customer.
At the start, just one rider will test the system for lunchtime deliveries only. But the concept lends itself to growth, so an app may even be in its future. (Miller is the founder of the popular app WedPics.)
The business, so far, has been strong; Miller says the response to El Taco Cartel since its August launch has been “really awesome.” The tacos sell out daily during the week and nightly when the taco cart is stationed outside of William & Company, the Person Street bar that Ballance owns.
El Taco Cartel also supplies the food for two or three private events a week, and Miller says they are in talks with different bars to potentially provide a late-night service during weeknights. They’re also looking at going the pop-up route during the colder months with the cart stationed at an indoor kiosk.
“Lily has taken so much time creating these really extensive recipes,” he says. “Coming up with a good product offering has made a huge impact on how well it has been received. People like the overall mission of the company, where we only buy as much as we need. That’s why we only sell a more limited quantity.”
So far the biggest challenges for El Taco Cartel have been determining the quantity of tacos to prepare each day and working around the hours of outside kitchens. Miller says a communal commissary, like The Cookery in Durham, could potentially make that easier.
“The biggest challenge is inventory and being able to create more product and the limitations from that standpoint,” Miller says. “We are always looking for new solutions and alternatives for that issue.”