HOWLAND, Ohio (WKBN) – The building that housed Sunrise Inn in the Howland Plaza for 25 years is now Wahaka Taco. It’s the latest idea of popular chef Mark Canzonetta, who doesn’t plan to stop here. This Wahaka Taco will be the first in a franchise.
As Canzonetta showed us the kitchen at his new restaurant…
“We bought the equipment that can cook the food most evenly and fastest as possible,” he said.
…his staff was learning the computer system that will run the place. With a drive-thru window, ordering kiosks and limited seating, Wahaka Taco was built for takeout.
“It’s harder and harder to find that staff that knows service, that knows wines, that knows spirits. So I want to simplify this, just keep it easy,” Canzonetta said.
Wahaka Taco opens this Tuesday and is within walking distance from Canzonetta’s first restaurant, Pesto’s Cafe. He went on to start Aqua Pazzo in Boardman and Bistro 1907 in downtown Youngstown. But where he really learned the business was during the two years he worked for Food Network star Guy Fieri.
“You know, I already knew a lot about food. He exposed me to a ton of more food, but he taught me branding and marketing,” Canzonetta said.
With the branding and marketing experience, Canzonetta plans to make Wahaka Taco a franchise. Within two years, he wants to be open in Canfield and Boardman, with the Boardman restaurant being the model.
“We built it from day one to be a franchise. We have the accounting team, we have the legal team, we have the design team, we have the real estate company,” Canzonetta said.
But why the Mexican food business?
“My heart is in Mexico because I just love the vibrant, fresh, crisp flavors of Mexico,” Canzonetta said.
Canzonetta says many of the area’s Mexican restaurants have Americanized their food, which he will not do. He even went to great lengths to find the perfect tortilla.
“I found it in my dear friend Guy Fieri’s hometown of Santa Rosa, California. They are as close to a Mexican tortilla as I’ve had anywhere in Mexico. So we had those brought in special. We’re the only ones in Ohio using these tortillas for our tacos,” Canzonetta said.
Wahaka Tacos will sell from $4 to $6 apiece or $10 to $13 for three of them. It’s a full menu that also includes enchiladas, burritos, chimichangas and desserts.
There’s an outdoor patio for the warmer months and a liquor license will be arriving soon.
Read More: Popular Valley chef Mark Canzonetta opens authentic Mexican restaurant Wahaka Taco in