Taco Time celebrates 40th anniversary


Photo: Logan Gaedke/Iowa State Daily

Customers line up for lunch orders on Monday at Taco Time. Taco Time is celebrating their 40th year of business in Ames. The location has sold over 1 million of its’ signature “Crisp Meat Burritos” since it first opened in 1969.

Ivy Christianson

An Ames eating establishment is celebrating its 40th anniversary.

Taco Time, 511 Lincoln Way, got its start in 1969 when owners Mac and Janice Peterson opened the establishment in Campustown.

A letter written by Janice Peterson for the Ames Tribune explains the establishment’s humble beginnings.

“The first days were filled with excitement and skepticism. Well-meaning citizens of Ames were concerned about the future for the new food place. ‘Are there enough Mexican people in the area to be your customers and can you get local people to try something so foreign?'”

The letter goes on to say, “When Mac concluded the financing with the University Bank of Ames, the bank president asked, ‘Tell me again, what is a Tay-co?'”

The business is still going strong though, said Larry Cornelius, current owner of Taco Time. Cornelius took over the establishment in 2005; he had previously managed Taco Time in the 1980s and was familiar with the business.

“We have a lot of tradition; the reason I came back was the culture,” he said. “The thought of Taco Time closing, being sold to someone who didn’t understand it, that was a concern of mine. I wanted to make sure it continues.”

In 1971, Taco Time made the switch from Campustown to Lincoln Way.

“This location became available and Lincoln Way is a much larger artery for the city of Ames,” Cornelius said.

An indicator of success is the restaurant’s positive environment, Cornelius said.

“I think we’re a good business, a healthy environment and we’re successful, which benefits the community,” he said.

Additionally, he said what makes the business special is the people.

“When customers come in and, through us, interact with each other, and we’re saying ‘please’ and we’re saying ‘thank-you,’ and you’re talking to each other with respect, I think that’s subliminal,” Cornelius said. “Customers sense that and like that.”

Taco Time has made its 40th anniversary a summer celebration with events going on all season long. Right before Iowa State’s spring semester ended, the restaurant sold 50 cent tacos, which lead to a tremendous response from students. They have also given away a Wii and have more planned for the duration of summer.

“I think if people just came in and gave us a shot, they’d be very, very surprised with the quality of the food and the service,” Cornelius said. “We’re looking for good customers, and I think they’re looking for good places to eat.”