Brewerytown is getting a taco shop in early August.
Shifty's Taco is rising inside a storefront at 2730 W. Girard Ave.
The project was born last August. Jeb Woody, who owns the two Honey's Sit N Eat diners, was on vacation with his wife, Ellen Mogell, and friends Bob and Joanne Aretz.
"We're sitting outside at our rental house, having a beer with Bob's friend Charlie [Dalton] when I got a call from Aaron Smith from MM Partners," Woody says,
MM is redeveloping Brewerytown, the swath of North Philly above Fairmount and to the east of the Philadelphia Zoo.
Smith told him that a tenant who was building a taco shop had walked away. Would he like to finish the project?
"'Of course I do,'" Woody said he replied. "'But I don't have any money. Give me 30 days.'"
He didn't need quite that much time, because Aretz, who runs the branding agency Paragraph Inc., and Dalton, a urologist, were already on board.
The opening of the second Honey's (21st and South Streets) did slow the project somewhat.
Woody landed the services of two operations/culinary guys: Zack Shell (who formerly managed the El Fuego restaurants) and Geoff Gabrick, a chef previously at Circa, Novelty and Latest Dish.
It's rough-and -tumble-looking spot - a 1950s-style Mexican cantina with exposed walls, butcher block counters and open kitchen.
They'll make their own tortillas and hot sauces, butcher their own meats, and will locally source as many ingredients as they can. "We have high expectations for ourselves," Woody says. "We want to make the best tacos in the country."
Flour and gluten-free corn tortillas will envelop the tacos, sold three per order. Prices start at $5 for bean and cheese and rise to $8 for such varieties as "The Rub" (braised brisket with chipotles in adobo) and "The Impostor" ((house-made pulled seitan, pomegranate molasses and chipotle mole),
Shifty's will have some table seating and a counter. They hope that most of their business comes from catering house parties. They'll also do deliveries in the neighborhood on bicycle.
Oh, and about the name. "I know the word 'shifty' has negative connotations," Woody says. "I think little things like that are conversation starters."