Rick Kosick: So I’m here with Wee-Man at his new Chronic Tacos location. Where are we?
Wee-Man: This location is off Bellflower and Stearns, in the city of Long Beach. Right down the street is Cal State Long Beach.
How long has this location been open?
This location was open before; it was already a Chronic Tacos location. The previous franchise let it die down, so Ricardo and I took it over to remodel and put it back on its feet. The local people around here were bummed when we closed for three months, but we came in quick and put up signs saying we were remodeling and going to be opening soon, so it stoked them out.
Do you still have your Redondo Beach location?
No, we closed that location. I was over that location two years into it. I didn’t even like the location.
It was in a bad spot. I always got a lot of complaints about the location. People coming on north PCH from the Torrance/Redondo area couldn’t even see the place. It was hard to get to and hidden behind cement pillars that were on the property. Parking was hard. The building itself and the front patio were awesome, and we had great parties, but the location sucked.
Preston Lacy eats Chronic Tacos!
Now that you’re here in Long Beach it seems like it’s a great area and has easy access.
Easy access off the street and easy to get here from the freeway. I love this spot. It’s central to everything. We’re close to a neighborhood where families can walk over. When we first opened, one lady said it took them an hour to get across the street because she had a one-year-old who walks really slow. But they were still determined to come here and have tacos.
So everyone in Long Beach is happy you’re here?
We’re in the fourth district of Long Beach, and I know that because the councilman of this area always comes in and he’s stoked. He came to our grand opening, he came to our taco-eating contest, and when we were on the news. He loves this store and he loves we’re a part of his district.
Do you have any specials?
We have Monday Madness, and it’s a big burrito. Then we have Taco Tuesday. On Wednesday Unwrapped you can get bowls, so it’s for the healthy that don’t want a tortilla—you get a burrito or a taco in a bowl, so we do different versions of that. Thursday, Friday, and the weekend are busy days, so nothing special on those.
I don’t know… maybe eventually. Lately I’ve been busy on the road and I don’t have the time to be consistent enough with it, but I can see it happening in the near future. We do want to do more parties. Our grand opening party went off without a hitch. The landlord was super stoked and so were all the tenants around us—everyone had more business the day of the party. Starbucks is our neighbor and Trader Joe’s is the other neighbor. Everybody was pumped and it brought a good feeling to the area. So yeah, we’re going to do more parties and have things going on all the time.
Are you a bigger part of the Chronic Tacos spectrum?
Yeah, I’m one of the business partners that own all the Chronic Tacos. There are seven of us. It’s me, the two original founders Dan and Randy, and then four brothers from Canada. Once we went into Canada, they were really stoked on it, so they came down and invested in the company.
How many Chronic Tacos are in North America?
There are about 38, with four or five up in Canada, and we’re all over the United States. We’re in North Carolina, Colorado, Utah, Nevada, Arizona, and soon to be in Washington state.
Someone told me you should open one up in Long Island, New York. They said there isn’t even a Chipotle there.
Ooooo, I didn’t know that. We’ve had interest with groups that were supposed to do franchises in the New York and New Jersey area. We need a good group to come in so they can watch over that location. Like in Washington, we have a family that does that one, and in Arizona we have a group that runs that area. Las Vegas, there’s a family that used to be a part of the McDonald’s franchise and now they’ve bought into the Chronic Taco franchise. So you need people who have heart behind the name and product to watch over it. Like if I opened it up there, I wouldn’t be able to go in once a week and check things out. So it would have to be a New Yorker who wants to run a business.
So after all these years, you became a restaurateur selling burritos and tacos.
I actually became a businessman—a business wee-man. Hahahaha…
Chronic Tacos restaurateurs Richardo Torres and Wee-Man.
(Photos by Rick Kosick; 2017)