Today we’d like to introduce you to Rock Star Tacos, and co-owner Rebecca Schaaf.
Alright, so thank you so much for sharing your story and insight with our readers. To kick things off, can you tell us a bit about how you got started?
Wil Pelly, my partner in all things, and a band mate had one too many shots after a gig and thought, “Wouldn’t it be cool to open a rock and roll taco shop?” Six months later, Rock Star Taco Shack opened its window in New Town at St. Charles.
I left Reeds American Table to open up our taco spot, and Wil left his job at Nudo House. We had no idea what the future would bring, but I believed in Wil’s vision, and between the two of us and our restaurant experience, we were confident that we could steer this vision to become a successful business.
Working with 100 ft2 of kitchen/service space with only outdoor dining, we packed a punch, and Wil set up the menu to offer very quick service. Because of his music industry connections, we were also called upon to cater to bands at Riverport and got to feed Alice Cooper and countless other bands, but the chance meeting with Billy Gibbons from ZZ Top changed the course of our business. I still love to tell that full story!
We both took winter jobs, and in March of 2020, we came home with the news that the world was going into lockdown. We looked at each other and thought… well, guess we’re opening the Shack early! We closed the window, pivoted to no-contact ordering, and took off.
Around this same time, we were approached by someone at the Gaslight (4916 Shaw Ave.) about taking over the restaurant space at the front of the building. We thought to ourselves, let’s see how this plays out. Fast forward two seasons later, and we are at capacity in our small space and our amazing small crew in St. Charles.
We’ve managed to continue providing services to bands at Riverport safely, and by the time the Shack closed its doors last fall, I was prepping all day to open at 5 and sell out by 8, then get up and do it all over again.
We opened our bar at the Gaslight in August, our kitchen in November, and decided to focus our energies on the new space instead of returning to New Town. It’s been a learning curve, for sure, with expanding to a full restaurant concept during Covid concerns in a new neighborhood, but we’re so happy to be here.
The building was just sold to the people behind the Improv Shop, and we are SO excited to work with them moving forward. The vision is to use this building as a hub for all things creative, utilizing the recording studio space and reflecting what the Gaslight Square was to our city back in the day.
They plan to build out the warehouse in the back of the building to use for concerts, private gatherings, classes, improv shows… the sky is the limit!
I’m sure you wouldn’t say it’s been obstacle-free, but so far would you say the journey has been a fairly smooth road?
The hardest thing by far has been staffing… Wil and I have high standards and an unusual concept, and it’s been very difficult to find staff that wants to learn/that has the capacity to learn/that understands our vision, and wants to help us bring it to life.
We’re in a good place now, and we recognize that we have been far luckier than some of our counterparts, but the truth is that it’s always been a tough business, and the way our industry has been treated by our neighbors and government in the last few years has made many veterans look for work elsewhere.
We’re very grateful to family and friends that stepped up to help out over the last months, and we’re very excited to finally have managing staff in place to help take us to the next level.
Thanks for sharing that. So, maybe next you can tell us a bit more about your work?
Wil and I are both musicians by trade.
I think that this, paired with our wicked sense of humor, is what makes our brand unique. We’re creatives at heart, and this shows in both our food and drink menus. By the way, totally unbiased fact: I eat Wil’s food every day. I miss it when we go out of town. He’s legit that good at what he does.
People come in expecting to have a good time: the food is affordable, the drinks are approachable, and the atmosphere is relaxed and comfortable. All of these things were intentional. We don’t want anyone to come in here and feel unwelcome, feel inadequate, or feel stressed in any way.
We are here to make you smile with our food, our atmosphere, our punny menu items, and our team.
The crisis has affected us all in different ways. How has it affected you and any important lessons or epiphanies you can share with us?
YES! I have learned that it is ok to say no. We all have encountered hateful and selfish people over the last few years, but unlearning “the customer is always right” has saved our business and our sanity.
We welcome you into our home each night, and if you are hateful to us or our family, you are out of here. I’ve never been such a proud Mama bear!
- Tacos $3.50-$5
- Entrées $5-$14
- Drinks $3-$15
- Happy Hour every day 5-6, Wednesdays all night
- Specials and events on our social media
- Instagram: @rockstartacotacosgaslight
- Facebook: @rockstartacosatthegaslightlounge
@whiskeyandsoba and Spencer Pernikoff