A pleasant Saturday night took a turn when a patron allegedly drove a car into a downtown taco spot, Taqueria. Taqueria is located at 236 Grove Street and has been a go-to for many neighbors for classic Mexican food since its opening in 2005. Read on to learn more about the incident that happened in Jersey City.
Phil and Andrea Barraza started Taqueria after their taco cart became a big hit with Jersey City residents in the early 2000s. They opened the restaurant at 236 Grove Street in 2005 and have since gone on to open Taqueria Downtown Catering Company, located at 354 Grove Street; Los Cuernos, located at 499 Washington Boulevard; and Taqueria St. Mark’s located at 79 St. Mark’s Place in Manhattan. The restaurant is known for its simply prepared, high-quality Mexican food. Classics like flautas, enchiladas, tamales and tacos are some of the highlights on the menu. Margaritas are the go-to drink order here, but beer, wine and other cocktails are available.
Taqueria’s location at the corner of Grand Street and Grove Street makes it a popular destination, especially in the warmer months when the back patio is open.
What We Know
The Hoboken Girl has reached out to the Jersey City Mayor’s Office and the Hudson County Prosecutor’s Office for comment and will update this story when we hear back. While we haven’t been able to track down an official account of the incident, piecing together some eyewitness accounts and comments on social media — as well as sources close to the owners — indicates a chaotic scene that quickly devolved.
A source close to the owners tells The Hoboken Girl, “A party came into Taqueria about 10 minutes before closing. Taqueria staff refused to serve them based on observations that they were already intoxicated. One person was throwing things at the staff and two other people were pushing and spitting on the manager.” The restaurant closes at 11PM.
The altercation escalated into a fight, according to eyewitnesses, and spilled out onto the street. The SUV was idling outside the restaurant — and according to a video shared by a local resident, one of the group jumped in and drove the car toward the crowd, hitting the exterior of the restaurant.
In a video, the driver is seen running away from the incident, and several others are in the car, which, according to eyewitnesses, included a small child. In the video, the onlookers called 911, and could be heard saying that “no one answered.”
The car is a white SUV, and police are on the lookout for it.
^Footage from a video from a nearby eyewitness
The General Manager of Taqueria commented on social media that there was a baby in the back of the vehicle that hit the restaurant and that two of the restaurant’s staff have been injured and are now hospitalized.
Video from inside the restaurant shows a hole through the building, including its brick exterior wall. Dust and debris covered the restaurant’s supplies and several shelving units had been destroyed, knocking things onto the floor.
Another firsthand witness told HG: “Beyond just them ramming the restaurant, they were speeding up/down the street and around the block in an incredibly dangerous manner. I was in an uber across the street and was terrified they were going to hit us because they had already hit one car. Another car behind me had backed up to hide behind the construction site across the street to try to protect themselves. Very scary situation.”
A sign outside Taqueria says that the restaurant will be closed until further notice. The Hoboken Girl has been told that a GoFundMe campaign has been set up to support the two staff members who have been hospitalized, and will update this story with that information when it becomes available. As of 5PM on Sunday, February 12th, the restaurant was open despite the damage.