Nick DiMario has been the man behind the scenes running restaurants for other people for a long time. While he enjoys what he does, he saw an opportunity to create a little something for his family while filling a void in Gulf Shores. Peace, Love & Taco will open soon at The Square in Gulf Shores.
DiMario and his wife Amy moved to Gulf Shores 10 years ago with their daughters for his job as director of operations for Aloha Hospitality. After 27 years, he left the company and to join Pete Blohme, aka Panini Pete, as operating partner at PP Hospitality and together they opened Sunset Pointe in Fairhope. PP Hospitality has rapidly grown and now includes Panini Pete’s and Sunset Pointe in Fairhope, Squid Ink and Mob Town Proper barbershop in Mobile and Ed’s Seafood Shed in Spanish Fort.
“This is a family affair. My kids, Sofia, Gabby and Mia are all working in some type of capacity in restaurants. I ran restaurants down here for Baumhower at the Wharf. My kids are all working for somebody else, why? I needed to do something here that makes sense. I met the Swiger’s and thought this was a great location and I said I’m doing it,” DiMario said.
The Square’s location on Highway 59 is prime and sandwiched between two of the largest retailers on the island. Walmart Gulf Shores parking lot is to the rear and Rouse’s is across Highway 59. The bright blue color catches the eye and the variety of businesses make it an attractive spot to stop after a long car ride to the beach.
Peace, Love & Taco’s storefront in The Square might scare some business owners due to its small size but not DiMario. The kitchen footprint is larger than Panini Pete’s so DiMario is confident this little space can sling hundreds of tacos a day and build to the type of volume Panini Pete’s does daily.
The small taco shop has been set up like every operation DiMario has ran over his career. There are recipes, check lists and training manuals. The menu is small but full of flavor with meats such as braised chicken with lime and cilantro and braised beef and pork barbacoa, cold smoke tuna and complex sauces such as chimichurri aioli. DiMario said the menu will have five tacos with chef driven flavors, sauces and freshness. He already has ideas for even more menu items once the operation gets running.
No detail has been overlooked. The drinks will be freshly made lemonade, guava and mango juice with mint and cosmic brownies for dessert. The seating area surrounding Peace, Love & Taco has been filled in with sand and will soon be covered with wind sails for shade. A fence was built using recycled pallets to define the space and keep kids from venturing into the parking lot while they play in the kids’ area. Across the parking lot, next to Swiger Studio, is a common space with a stage and tables that DiMario knows will be full of guests soon.
“I am trying to do something different. We are just trying to be a game changer on flavor. I am trying to bring the Panini Pete magic to tacos as it relates to the different sauces and flavors. If you get a taco and it is not dripping juice, it is not a good taco,” DiMario said.
DiMario plans to open for a preview Saturday, May 1 and Sunday, May 2. For spring, the hours will be Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 11:30 a.m. – 9 p.m. and will begin May 7. Summer hours will be 11 a.m. til 9 p.m. six days a week. Like the Peace, Love & Taco Facebook page for hours, updates and menu items. Peace, Love & Taco is located at 1544 Gulf Shores Parkway in Gulf Shores.