Earlier this week in a borrowed kitchen at Clyde Iron Works in Duluth, the Grandma's Marathon pre-game meant preparing more than 200 pounds of pork and more than 100 pounds of vegetables for a pop-up taco shop in Canal Park — an introduction to a spot scheduled to open in mid-July.
Aaron Maloney and Alex Giuliani, son of the local developer with the same name, are behind Chachos Taqueria, which is under construction at 329 Canal Park Drive, in the house near Caribou Coffee.
"We've been building this since before last winter," Maloney said. "It's really nice to get it off the ground and into fruition."
This weekend, as a trial run, they will be offering up two versions of their tacos — cochinita (pork) and nopales (cactus) — in front of their future home. Also available: water, Mexican coke "and applications," Giuliani said, a nod to the current employee shortages in the food industry.
Chachos Taqueria roots
Giuliani said that he and his father have been talking about opening a taco spot in Canal Park for about five years. The younger moved back to Duluth during the pandemic and they set the plan in motion.
In the meantime, Robert Giuliani, the elder brother of Alex Giuliani, opened Tacos Tacos Tacos in downtown Duluth — a very big "coincidence," according to the younger Alex Giuliani.
"It's been really fun working with him on flavors and talking shop," he said.
The duo differentiated the two taco restaurants: Tacos Tacos Tacos, with its street tacos, is traditional Mexican fare, and Chachos Taqueria takes the flavors and techniques and their own signature.
"We're applying our fine-dining background into a simple food style," Maloney said.
Part of that identity relies on Giuliani's background with pastries. For instance, when Chachos Taqueria makes its salchicha con tocino — a bacon-wrapped hot dog — it'll be served on a homemade bun, with house-pickled vegetables and pistachio mole.
They plan to have a seasonal space with a walk-up window and outdoor seating, they said, with an eye toward off-season delivery.
Who are these guys?
Maloney's background starts in the Twin Cities at the now-shuttered Liquor Lyle's, shifts to Butcher & The Boar, and includes a few years at 4 Bells, where he and Giuliani worked together and became friends.
Giuliani started at Clyde Iron Works and then moved on to Minneapolis restaurants The Bulldog and Pub 42 before he became an assistant pastry chef at the Loring Park Southern-style restaurant that closed in 2020.
They wanted to work together again, Maloney said. Then everything came together.
"After the chaotic last year, we all got displaced and were looking for something new to do," he said. "(Giuliani) had this idea up here and got me involved."
Going into marathon weekend, the duo hit social media with updates, including a photo of a trunk-load of tortillas from Colonial Market in Minneapolis. They are planning to sell thousands of tacos.
They have the elder Giuliani's early seal of approval.
"Their food is off-the-charts amazing," he said.
About Chachos Taqueria
Hours: 4 p.m. Friday, 7 a.m. Saturday, 10 a.m. Sunday
Location: 329 Canal Park Drive, Duluth