Back in 1997, Taqueria el Poblano founder and chef Glen Adams landed in DC, his latest stop in a career that led him through the States and Europe. By 1999 the California native was eager to showcase the food he grew up with in LA.
From the taco trucks of his youth to the regional Mexican specialties he tasted during his travels, Glen developed a menu to showcase his favorites—duck tacos, frijoles charros, and steak tampiquena. Then he took on two partners, pastry chefs Dan and Lindsay Michel.
More than a decade after they opened a second restaurant in North Arlington, which they lovingly refer to as Taq 2, we sat down with the couple to talk about the restaurant business.
Scroll down for our interview.
Be Inkandescent: What made you want to be restaurant owners?
Dan Michel: When Glen and I worked together in the hotel business, he was a chef of cuisine and I was a pastry chef, and we became good friends. About 13 years ago, he wanted to open the Taqueria in Northern Virginia, I helped him as a friend, not a business partner, painting, gutting the place, doing carpentry.
The first restaurant did so well that three years later he called me up and wanted to know if I would be interested in helping him open up a second location. That’s when I left my career as a hotel pastry chef and went into the Taqueria business.
Be Inkandescent: From pastry chef to tacos, was that a big leap?
Dan Michel: I worked my way through college at jobs in restaurants and hotels before realizing I wanted to work with food to make a living. At the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York, I discovered that pastries was my thing. After 22 years as a pastry chef, making the transition to running a restaurant was huge. I had no idea how different the two careers would be.
Be Inkandescent: Lindsay, tell us about your background. You also have experience as a pastry chef.
Lindsay Michel: After I graduated from college, I worked in finance for a while. When Dan and I got married and moved to Hawaii, there wasn’t much for me to do there, so he got me into a course back East with Roland Mesnier, the White House pastry chef.
Dan and I thought that we would open our own pastry shop one day, but once we were back in Virginia, I got pregnant and neither of us wanted to work eight days a week, so we stuck with what we were doing, Dan as a pastry chef and me doing wedding cakes for one of the DC hotels for about 15 years. When Glen came along with the idea for the Taqueria, our kids were more grown up and we thought, “What the heck, let’s do something really fun together!”