Q&A with Tacuba Taco Bar Owner Suzette Franco-Camacho

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Photo Credit: New Haven Living

Suzette Franco-Camacho, a Milford native, has an extensive background in the restaurant industry and is the General Manager at Tacuba Taco Bar in Branford, Conn. Her husband Arturo Franco-Camacho who was raised in Tijuana, Mexico, started his culinary craft at a young age as he helped his mother in her small restaurant and is the executive chef at Tacuba. The two met while working at the Park Place restaurant in Stamford where they realized they both had a lot in common.The couple have been in the restaurant business for years, running several restaurants together including one of New Haven’s most popular restaurant’s Roomba. When the Roomba closed down, the pair decided to venture out of the downtown area where requests for Roomba’s menu continued to pour in over the years. On September 6 Arturo announced that he would be bringing back his Latin cuisine to Tacuba.

FT: What did people like most about Roomba? Was it the food, the atmosphere, or both?

S: It was an entire experience. The music, lighting, waterfall down the stairs, colors, candles and coconuts, décor, the bathroom, outdoor patio with flowy white cabanas – all with awesome food, really lively atmosphere and great service. It was really a unique place at a time when the area really embraced something new.

FT: Why did you decide to bring the Latin cuisine back from Roomba to Tacuba?

S: Two reasons really. The first is even after being closed for seven years, there isn’t a week that goes by that customers go without mentioning that Roomba was their favorite and they miss the food so much.  This combined with a need to change our business model, made it all make sense.

FT: What will the Latin cuisine menu consist of? What should people expect?

S: If you go onto the website, a menu is up. With the exception of the Tacos and Ceviche we featured at Tacuba, the rest is pure Nuevo Latino cuisine.  It blends the flavors of Latin America in unique and memorable ways.

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Tacuba’s new menu of Roomba favorites.

Photo Credit: Tacuba Taco

FT: What is the difference between Roomba and Tacuba? What kinds of food do/did they feature?

S: Roomba can never be replaced. It had a unique location, look, feel, moment and time. Tacuba has its own identity, but Mexico and Latino America are felt everywhere. Roomba was at a time when the Delano, Miami, and boutique hotels were just popping up. Tacuba is a little more laid back. The Roomba menu did not have tacos, whereas Tacuba until recently was heavily focused on tacos and more Mexican items. Now it offers tacos and a broader menu of Latin America.

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Golden griddled corn cake with lobster topped with fresh avocado, corn, and Mexican Crema

Photo Credit: Tacuba’s Facebook Page

 FT: Why did Roomba close? What led you to move your business enterprise to Branford with Tacuba? (Failure rate for restaurants is 57 to 61 percent for a three year period, according to H.G. Parsa, associate professor of hospitality management at Ohio University). 

S: Essentially Yale University gave us 30 days notice to leave as a result of an entirely different problem with the Bespoke building we owned. Long, sad, story.

FT: People have noted that your previous restaurants Bespoke and Roomba are the reason why the New Haven dining scene took a turn for the better. Do you agree and why?

S: I am humbled that people view our work in that way, it makes all of the sacrifice and 90 hour work week have meaning. We have always stayed ahead of the crowd and consider ourselves innovators. We love bringing unique and one of a kind décor paired with great food, brand, and service. Bespoke was both the first basement lounge and rooftop patio. The furniture was as custom made as the name Bespoke. Our uniforms were designed by Kara Janx of Project Runway. I think it was really something new and special for the area, and we were very proud of it.

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Photo Credit: Tacuba’s Facebook Page

 FT:  What are your favorite appetizers, entrees, and dessert from the Roomba menu?

S: So many, really hard to say.  Some are on the menu now, others will be introduced later. The Atun, Chupe, really everything!

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Tacuba’s Famous Tacos

Photo Credit: Tacuba’s Facebook Page

 FT: How long will the Roomba menu be available at Tacuba?

S: We aren’t sure, we will likely offer it for the early fall and see if we want to continue  (based on customer feedback and popularity). I think based on what we have seen so far, we will see a lot of old familiar faces.

FT: I found this question on your Facebook and I would love to know your answer. ” If (hypothetically speaking of course) you could have any dish, drink, décor item, memory from ROOMBA what would it be?”

S: I miss the waterfalls outside, they really transported you. And the patio bar, so much fun.

The couple looks forward to seeing former customers as they continue their culinary adventures.

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