North Texas Daily

Flatlander’s grounds mom-and-pop tacos downtown

Flatlander’s grounds mom-and-pop tacos downtown

November 25
12:29 2015

Kayleigh Bywater | Senior Staff Writer

@kayleighnic0le

Husband and wife Tyler and Ashley Hall always wanted to open up a taco restaurant.

The Halls grew up working in restaurants and were both general managers for various establishments in the business. But in Oct. 2013, they decided to open a food truck and name it Flatlander’s Taco Company.

“We used to live in Colorado,” Ashley said. “We grew up around here, but if you’re not from the mountains you’re called a ‘flatlander.’ The name of the business kind of connects us to Colorado.”

The couple originally planned to open the restaurant in Breckenridge, Colorado. When some personal issues brought them back to Texas, the Halls knew it was a chance to see if they could still make their dream come true.

“We’ve fallen in love with the entire cuisine,” Ashley said. “We started cooking all the time for friends in Colorado, who had never had actual Mexican tacos. When we came back, though, we thought since we were here already, why don’t we just test our market around here?”

Up and running

Ashley said the food truck was the right choice to build their brand.

They obtained six full permits throughout the metroplex, ranging from Dallas to Denton. Rather than investing hundreds of thousands of dollars into a restaurant that may not take off, Ashley said the food truck helped them test the waters and see where they were best received.

“You can cook for your friends and family all the time, and they’ll tell you it’s great,” Ashley said. “We needed to go out and try to sell our product to people who didn’t know us to see if our food was even liked.”

After a few months, the Halls found that spending hours to find a prime location, going to food truck parks and working nights on the truck were not worth the time, especially with their young son.

After much thought, they felt they were ready to bring Flatlander’s to a new level, while still maintaining the food truck and a catering business through the brand.

The Halls looked all over the metroplex but had their eyes on a 1945 building near the Square in Denton — the establishment’s current location. When they got the call that the lease was theirs, Tyler said they went straight to work to bring their concept to life.

“We were here the entire time of construction,” Tyler said. “We got behind several months, so we were here literally laying the tiles ourselves.”

With the restaurant, the Halls were able to offer a full menu and create a unique vibe they said wasn’t possible with the truck.

“Honestly, we try to mirror the food truck and restaurant,” Tyler said. “We run them the same way. We just have a ridiculous more amount of opportunities with the brick-and-mortar location.”

Living out their dream

Tyler said Flatlander’s prides itself on having fresh ingredients and meals. Tyler said they are at the store every morning buying the day’s ingredients.

“We don’t use any food service providers, so that gives us the opportunity to literally hand-pick each and every ingredient,” Tyler said. “Our refried beans we make, for example, take over six hours for them to cook, just for the little smear on the top of the taco.”

It’s the small details that keep the customers coming, said Shift Coffee Shop employee Chase Record, a frequent Flatlander.

“It’s homely,” Record said. “They aren’t this big chain production. As a customer, it’s reassuring to know my meal isn’t processed, freeze-dried food that was just thrown into a microwave.”

Employee and UNT alumna Emily Edwards described the restaurant as a mom-and-pop shop in every sense of the words. There are struggles that come with it, but she said the Halls always have things under control.

“Unless you’re experiencing it, you don’t think about the amount of work put into running the restaurant,” Edwards said. “The owners never have a day off.”

Although they’ve overcome obstacles to get to where they’re at today, the Halls said they would not give up working alongside each other for anything.

“This operation is a daily struggle, but it’s worth it,” Ashley said. “Even if, knock on wood, this doesn’t work out, we will always be together.”

Featured Image: Customers fill Flatlander’s new Denton location. Courtesy | Flatlander’s Taco Company

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