Bueno Tacos Closes After Nearly Two Years of Operation


Elsa O'Brien, Staff Writer

Local restaurant Bueno Tacos, located at 22 Utica St. in downtown Hamilton, permanently closed its doors on April 23. Popular throughout the Hamilton community, Bueno Tacos was a Southern California-style Mexican taqueria serving fresh, authentic, Mexican cuisine, according to their Instagram (@buenos_tacos_hamilton).

Owner Nicole Marshall, originally from San Diego, Calif., initially opened Bueno Tacos as a food truck. After postponing their opening due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the restaurant was able to move into the Utica Street location in May of 2020. 

Due to staffing issues, Bueno Tacos frequently experienced sporadic daily closures in their final months. In the announcement of their closing, Marshall alluded to the impact of the pandemic on small businesses. 

“It’s with a heavy heart that I must inform you that we are making the difficult decision to permanently close our doors,” Marshall wrote in an Instagram post on April 15. “The stressor of operating a small business during these tough times has taken its toll, and we have to re-evaluate our situation.”

The stress caused by the pandemic greatly impacted the owners’ decision and Bueno Tacos is not the first Hamilton business to announce their pandemic-related closure. Students have noticed this as a trend among small businesses, according to first-year Caroline Collins.

“I haven’t even been at Colgate for one year, and I feel like I have already seen the town completely change,” Collins said. “It’s absolutely devastating how we’ve lost two fantastic restaurants in just a semester. I’m really going to miss Bueno Tacos.” 

The difficulty of hiring and keeping experienced staff was an issue exacerbated by the fact that the TIA initiative will tear down the building in which Buenos Tacos is located within the next year in order to expand their space, according to Marshall. 

“Ultimately I had to make a decision about what was sensible, and fiscally responsible,” Marshall said. “The biggest heartache is disappointing my customers, they meant everything to me, I really love the students and faculty who make Colgate University so special, and I do hope to be a continuing presence in their community.”

First-year Emma Burdick, who works at her family’s small business in her home town, understands the struggles that Bueno Tacos faced.

“It’s been so hard for small businesses to get back on their feet after the pandemic. It really messed up everything,” Burdick said. “[As] sad as I am about losing the restaurant, I completely understand the decision that Bueno Tacos made. The staff and owners must have worked so hard to stay open, but in the end you have to think about the literal and emotional costs on the owners.”

Students turned out for Buenos Tacos’ last day to show their support. The restaurant was crowded and students expressed that they would miss being able to get food from there, according to junior Rachella Carlino. 

“I decided to go to Bueno Tacos on their last day open because I very much enjoyed the atmosphere and food at the restaurant,” Carlino said. “The business was absolutely packed and, as usual, were facing a long line of very eager Colgate students to get one last delicious burrito. I always had such a great experience with the owners and people that worked there because I went to get food from Buenos Tacos so frequently, and all the staff expressed their gratitude for our continued support throughout their time in Hamilton.” 

Carlino also expressed her thoughts on what Bueno Tacos’ closure means for the Hamilton community.

“I will definitely miss this restaurant and having such a good food option so readily available,” Carlino said. “The closing of Bueno Tacos will definitely be a loss for the village as a great place to eat and enjoy time with friends, though I am hopeful that it provides more opportunities for new businesses to move in and thrive.”