When Julian Hakim decided to open his fourth location of the West Coast brand The Taco Stand in Miami’s Wynwood District, the Instagrammable, arts-obsessed neighborhood was unfamiliar territory.


    Julian Hakim

    The Tipping Point
    Since opening in San Diego in 2013, The Taco Stand had become a destination for laid-back Mexican dining. Hakim and co-owner Aram Baloyan decided it was time to take their successful brand to the East Coast and open their fourth location in the Miami’s Wynwood Arts District. “We knew we had picked one of Miami’s most buzzed about neighborhoods, but when we physically took a drive down the street, we realized our West Coast motif needed to be turned up a notch,” he says.

    No Turning Back
    “We faced the challenge of standing out in a neighborhood that was already overpopulated with taco joints,” Hakim says. He and Boylan commissioned local artists to paint murals on every wall and added hand-drawn menus, making The Taco Stand an extension of the neighborhood, and creating an Instagrammable experience. The team also created a luxe twist with Hiden, a discreet omakase experience located in the back of the venue.

    Road to Recovery
    Once the restaurant’s design drew the public interest in, the menu kept them there. “People seem to come for the hipster Instagram pics and stay for the authentic cuisine,” Hakim says. The success spoke to the evolution of the brand. “What works for one location might not work for another. You need to be mindful of your surroundings.”

    Lessons Learned

    • Be mindful of your surroundings.
    • Value the neighborhood you’re in.
    • Don’t be scared to evolve your brand.
    Chef Profiles, Feature