With just a small stand on the patio of Lawrence’s great dive bar the Replay Lounge, Taco Zone had perhaps an inauspicious beginning. Yet its humble origins don’t really tell the story of its serious cooking, or its growing ambitions. This small taco stand-turned-downtown Lawrence fixture has a talented, experienced chef with French training, an expanding catering operation and even a brand-new hot sauce to offer.
Taco Zone is the brainchild of three partners: brother and sister Brad and Courtney Shanks, and Courtney’s husband, chef Brian Ayers. The three all originally hail from Lawrence, though all left town in the late ‘90s and early ‘00s to pursue different artistic and entrepreneurial opportunities. The Shanks settled in Brooklyn, opened a vintage clothing store and started a successful indie rock band, Blood on the Wall. Ayers, whose first kitchen job was at a restaurant in Lawrence, attended culinary school at Le Cordon Bleu in Paris, then proceeded to work in celebrated kitchens in France (including at a three-star Michelin restaurant), New York and Melbourne, Australia. Eventually, Brad landed back in Lawrence, while Courtney and Ayers settled in Los Angeles, where they reconnected and eventually married. Read more>