Alex Rosario is bringing La Bodega Taco Bar to Uptown, his third iteration of the taco bar in addition to the St. Louis Park location and his food truck based in Crystal. He hopes to open the exterior-painted lime green restaurant along Hennepin Ave. in March.
The Uptown spot will serve birria ramen, which is popular at Rosario’s other taco bars, plus meat, fish and veggie tacos. Rosario is hoping to secure a liquor license to serve alcohol, something his other taco bars don’t have. In addition to the taco bars, Rosario also owns car dealerships and ice cream shops, including one at 50th and France Ave.
Some highlights of La Bodega’s menu are the walleye tacos, which he said Minnesotans go crazy for, nopales (cactus slices) and crazy fries, which are French fries topped with meat, guac, Cotija cheese, beans and more. Maintaining a smaller menu helps ensure quality, according to Rosario.
Family is also incredibly important to Rosario. As the son of Mexican immigrants and the father to a five-year-old daughter, his mission as a businessman is to build generational wealth for his family.
“When everything’s said and done, I want to leave my daughter in a better position than I grew up in,” Rosario said. “That’s my biggest thing, to make sure she doesn’t have to worry about the financial part of her life.”
In addition to securing his daughter’s future through his work, Rosario employs family members, including his father, to work at his businesses. His father works as his “second set of eyes” while Rosario is working elsewhere. Rosario said that the taco bar’s menu got his parents’ stamp of approval as well.
“Before I even decide to hire out, I try to give the opportunities to my family members because again, the whole trying to build generational wealth thing,” Rosario said. “If I succeed, my family should be able to succeed as well, and I put them in positions to be able to do that.”
“We have birria ramen, which is definitely very popular, and stuff like that that is not necessarily Mexican food, but it’s good, it’s delicious,” Rosario said.
Rosario likes to keep the restaurants small, hence the name “La Bodega.” His restaurants emulate the size and charm of New York bodegas.
The decoration inside the Uptown space is all Rosario’s doing. He values being hands-on and creative with his businesses, especially during this process of putting together the restaurant. The space is visually appealing with bright tiles behind the counter, a huge graffiti-style mural by artist Trace and funky hanging chairs that customers will certainly feature in Instagram posts. The artist also convinced Rosario to paint the outside of the building lime green.
“I love this period where you get to be creative on what you wanted,” Rosario said. “I just love being creative and building a concept up from scratch.”
Being a hands-on boss doesn’t stop once the business opens. Rosario pays close attention to Google reviews and responds himself, thanking positive reviewers and talking through problems with the negative ones– not that there are many negative comments with their 4.6-star rating. Rosario even wrote “may I ask why the one star. There is no info stating why,” to a reviewer who left a Google rating on the St. Louis Park restaurant without a comment.
One thing Rosario isn’t sure of yet is the hours of operation for the Uptown taco bar. He could close around 8 p.m., like the St. Louis Park location, or he’s considering staying open until after the bars close on weekends. The Hennepin Ave. location is just down the street from Reign, the nightclub, and within blocks of several other bars.
La Bodega Taco Bar will open at 2829 Hennepin Ave. in March. Check out @labodegatacobar on Instagram or find them on Facebook for info as they prepare to open.