Our love of tacos is pretty well known, especially if you happen to be at Dos Amigos around 1 p.m. on Tuesdays. It’s taco Tuesday, so why wouldn’t we go?
But we’re not the only ones who love the discounted soft shells filled with our favorite meat, veggies and cheese – along with salsa and sauce if you’re into those kind of things. It can get a little crazy in there between all the people trying to take a break from the work life and those running in to pick up orders for the entire office. And if you’ve ever checked out the actual space to create all those tasty tacos, burritos and salads, it’s not all that big.
So when you get a dining room full of people and large orders to be made and packaged, things can get backed up a bit. And that’s not what anyone wants, the Dos employees or the hungry patrons like us. For a little while, the Dos crew was looking for a way to make things better.
“We’ve been trying to find the things that don’t decrease the quality, but increase the efficiency,” said Dos manager Amanda Hackett.
Moving was completely out of the question, because talk about a prime location, and major renovations to the current space wouldn’t be possible unless they wanted to create some unhappy neighbors. But it still came down to a need for more space.
“We’re operating in the same setup in which Dos started at, but our business has greatly increased,” Hackett said. “And we can’t blow out walls; we need bathrooms, a dining room and a place to make food.”
Then, about a year ago, someone brought up the basement. It wasn’t exactly a space that screamed “make food down here.” It was probably what you’d expect out of a Main Street building basement – concrete floors, poorly lit and puke green paint on the walls. Dos used it for an office space and paper goods storage, but that was about it.
“It was a scary basement,” Hackett said. “There were no options for the longest time, and then there was an option.”
Well, if you walked down there today, you’d be amazed by the transformation. It’s now a bright and shiny working environment, complete with a three-bay sink, prep tables, lots of shelving for storage and a gigantic walk in cooler. (But don’t worry, they kept the concrete floors and choice paint color in the office area.)
And it’s just step one in the transformation process. Now that there’s a brand new prep area downstairs, where they can cut all the fresh veggies and make those delicious sauces, it opens up a ton of possibilities upstairs.
“Any change we make here is to increase the experience,” Hackett said.
While they’ll still have to use the original prep area for cooking all the meat – along with making quesadillas and whatnot – because that’s where the hood vents are (and anyone who has cooked before knows those are quite necessary), the potential to create a more luxurious food creation station is the end goal.
“It’s still the same concept, but now we can just change the way we do it,” Hackett said.
When the restaurant opens, the plan is to have the prep people relocate downstairs so the main floor can be used to focus on the food being made to go into people’s stomachs. With the extra walk-in space, more product can be made at one time, but the upstairs cooler can also be dedicated to what’s needed for tacos and burritos or whatever you decide to order.
“Everything you eat is made in house. It’s supposed to be good food made fast,” Hackett said. “But a lot of the stuff is also cold prep, so it can be done without necessarily being upstairs. Now we can create bigger batches and stop wasting so much time doing things as we go.”
The grand plan is put in a second line to help get the food out faster. Right now, all the food is made up front, but the limited area makes it so only three burritos can be put together at one time. And when a big pick up order comes in, getting food out in a reasonable amount of time becomes increasingly more difficult. So the front line would be for people who want to occupy a table, while the back line would be delegated for orders leaving in a brown paper bag.
“If every phone call can go to the back line, all the people who come in to eat here or order here, will have a wait time that’s much shorter,” Hackett said.
But right now, since the basement area has only been usable for two weeks after getting the A-ok from the health inspector (which we all appreciate), it’s all a figuring out process. Once the logistics of how to best use the basement area is decided, then they can start concentrating on revamping the existing space.
“Right now we’re just working out all the kinks,” Hackett said.
What it should do in the long run is turn it into a seamless working environment where they can put out more food in a timely fashion, while we all get to enjoy the same tasty stuff we always have.