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Taco Talks: A New York Pop-Up Restaurant Doubles as an Innovation Lab

May 5, 2014
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Taco Talks: A New York Pop-Up Restaurant Doubles as an Innovation Lab
These tacos mean business. Sean Gallup/Getty Images
The weeklong stand will serve up Mexican food alongside advice for startups and companies looking for a fresh creative approach.

Manhattan’s Lower East Side will welcome another creative space for the aspiring entrepreneur, but this time it comes with an order of crispy shells stuffed with meat and cheese.

The Design Taco, a weeklong, pop-up storefront is actually an idea accelerator operating under the guise of a Mexican restaurant. Design Gym, which runs a series of innovation workshops, teamed up with Made in the Lower East Side, an outfit that transforms empty storefronts into pop-up shops, to create the refreshing break from a boardroom whiteboard.

“When you go to a coffee shop, you might see people trying to brainstorm and collaborate, trying to pitch ideas to their friends and get something started, but the truth is those spaces aren’t really designed for that type of interaction,” Design Gym founder Andy Hagerman told Fast Company.

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Hagerman explains the concept is open to both individuals and companies looking for a new approach, and an atypical environment like a taco joint may encourage people to relax and experiment more than usual.

The pop-up will run from May 12 to May 19 at 37 East 1st Street and be open from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily.  The restaurant will host a series of private classes, panels and workshops including a collaboration panel with Brooklyn Brewery, Moleskin, and West Elm as well as an evening on innovation with Chipotle, OXO, Kickstarter, and Refinery 29. Walk-in hours are also available to the general public, giving customers a chance to stop in, enjoy some tacos and develop an idea.

Hagerman expects foot traffic from all walks of life, and while it’s only temporary, the Design Gym is not dismissing the idea of opening a permanent outpost.

“In the workshops we’ve had, a brain surgeon will be sitting next to a seventh grade student, next to an executive from a Fortune 500 company,” Hagerman says. “The conversations we’ve seen happen, with a little bit of coaching and facilitation, are incredible. We don’t think there are necessarily enough outlets or places for conversations like that to happen right now.”

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