“YESSSS!!!” That was among the less enthusiastic Facebook reactions to the announcement that Dirty Taco + Tequila’s Rockville Centre location will reopen for takeout and delivery starting Friday. The news sent waves through the Island’s multitudinous community of L.A.-style taco lovers, not to mention fans of watermelon, mango and blood orange margaritas, a not-insubstantial sector in and of itself.
It is now barely three weeks since Tom Cataldo Sr. and family made the difficult decision to close both Dirty Taco locations — the other is in Wantagh — citing an overloaded phone order system and overflow crowds that violated social distancing mandates.
“It was almost a bit of a blessing that we had this little bit of time off,” he said, noting that his team had addressed problems with the phones (“we now have six lines”), delivery (“we took care of all the insurance and liability issues”), and distancing (“we have markings on the ground”). Roughly 90 percent of Dirty Taco’s menu — and yes, all of its cocktails — will be available. “We think we’ve got it down to a science here.”
Additionally, every Tuesday, the staff will prepare and deliver meals to health care workers or “anyone else who could use a donation.” The first week’s recipients will be staffers at nearby Mt. Sinai Hospital in Oceanside, noted Cataldo, adding that “we feel very blessed.”
Blessed too to be able to rehire every Dirty Taco employee who had been laid off from the Rockville Centre location. Soon, they’ll be doing the same in Wantagh, added Cataldo proudly. “We plan on reopening that one the following Friday.”
And then, after a pause to consult with his wife AnnMarie: “Let’s say in the next few weeks, just to be safe.”
Dirty Taco + Tequila is at 201 Sunrise Hwy. in Rockville Centre, 516-600-9874, dirtytacoandtequila.com. Current hours for takeout and delivery are Tuesday through Friday from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m., Saturday and Sunday from 3 p.m. to 9 p.m. Closed Monday.