The Tin Star in West Plano, at the corner of Park Boulevard and the Dallas North Tollway, closed on Monday, and the neighborhood is bereft.
"Your West Plano location is closed?? Is it permanent, or planned to reopen? We live close by and it was our go-to place for tacos and quesadillas," said one Facebook fan.
"Was looking forward to a meal at Tin Star last night at the Park/Tollway location, and when I arrived, all I saw was a darkened restaurant and a notice on the door," said another.
"We're a fast-casual concept with reasonable prices, and you can't keep that going if you're paying over $200,000 a year in rent," says owner Michael Rangel.
The notice on the door was for nonpayment of rent. But Tin Star owner Michael Rangel says they knew it was coming for a couple of months and that they'd tried to work with the landlord to keep that branch open.
"We were there for 10 years and loved it," Rangel says. "But it just wasn't feasible. We're a fast-casual concept with reasonable prices, and you can't keep that going if you're paying over $200,000 a year in rent."
He says there was "no chance" they will reopen at that location, but they are shopping for a replacement space nearby.
"I'm glad we were able to hold on long enough that our employees weren't looking for jobs during the holidays and were able to find everyone a position in one of our other stores," he says.
"We feel optimistic we'll find another space. There's some open real estate on West Park, and we're talking to different people. We're sad we had to close the store, but it didn't make sense for us to be there."
Tin Star was a pioneer in Dallas when it opened its first branch in 1999 selling, of all things, tacos. Now everyone sells them, but the chain has maintained a dedicated following of customers who appreciate its fresh ingredients, decent food and affordable prices. Tin Star is beloved for its queso and gourmet garnishes such as pickled red onions and sweet potato strings. The portobello taco is a vegetarian classic.
Rangel is stoked about the Tin Star Taco Taxi, the company food truck, which has been super busy with catering events. He's been a staunch advocate of the local food truck scene, says Christina MacMicken, co-owner of the Good Karma Kitchen food truck, who credits him with being a key player in getting the City of Dallas to relax its restrictions and allow food trucks to do business.
Meanwhile, Tin Star is considering opening a branch at Galleria Dallas, despite the location that already exists behind the Galleria off the Tollway at Alpha Road.
"We used to have a branch at Preston Center and then opened one in NorthPark, and it did real well," he says. "Frisco, we opened one outside the Stonebriar Mall and another inside the mall. It's two different clienteles. The malls have definitely been good to us."