A Concessionaire Story: Making a Career Change with Liz Solomon Dwyer
Liz Solomon Dwyer is a native of Austin, Texas who came to New York City after college to work in advertising. After a decade in that field, she decided to embark on a career change by starting her own business. She founded King David Tacos to provide New Yorkers with a breakfast alternative that, while popular in her hometown, had yet to emerge here. Rolling out locations from Prospect Park to the Financial District and now to Madison Square Park, King David Tacos has become a popular on-the-go breakfast choice for New Yorkers.
This interview was recorded in October 2019.
NYC Parks: What line of work were you in prior to starting King David Tacos?
Liz Solomon Dwyer: I moved to New York City from Austin, Texas to work in advertising which I studied in school. But after a decade of working in the advertising field, I decided to make the leap to food which is quite a different industry!
NYC Parks: What inspired you to start King David Tacos?
LD: King David Tacos is named after my dad, who his friends called ‘King David’ as he was a big guy with a big personality. When I first moved here he came to visit and, noticing the lack of breakfast tacos, advised me to open a breakfast taco stand in Times Square. While I didn’t seriously consider it at the time, it remained in the back of my mind as a very good business idea. As I learned the New York lifestyle, I found that breakfast tacos fill a hole in the morning routine which is the ability to pick up a healthy grab-and-go breakfast that is hot and doesn’t weigh you down. Breakfast tacos are a perfect on-the-go breakfast that you can throw in your bag before hopping on the subway!
NYC Parks: What sort of offerings can be found at a King David Taco cart?
LD: We have four main kinds of breakfast tacos. We have the classic bacon, potato, egg and cheese. We have the or’izo which contains Mexican chorizo, potato, egg and cheese. Our best seller is the Queen Bean which is refried beans, potato, egg and cheese. And most recently, we added ‘Mom’s Migas,’ which is my mom’s taco and my personal favorite – it’s her salsa recipe scrambled into eggs and tortilla chips topped with jalapeño rajas and cheese.
NYC Parks: What locations did you operate at prior to Madison Square Park?
LD: For the past two years we have operated at Prospect Park, through a sublicense agreement with the Prospect Park Alliance, and Coenties Slip in the Financial District, through a sublicense agreement with the Downtown Alliance.
NYC Parks: How did you hear about the opportunity to become a vendor at Madison Square Park?
LD: I signed up for the Parks Concessions mailing list! I was very persistent in my early days about how to get permits to work in the parks and was excited when I learned that a Request for Proposals (RFP) was released for specialty food in Madison Square Park and other locations throughout the city. Every time I get an email from the Parks mailing list, I get excited about new opportunities. It’s a little known mailing list that has these opportunities in great places that may not all be for me but are perfect for other people.
NYC Parks: What’s your experience working in the parks? How do you find operating a business in the parks?
LD: It’s great, it’s really unique. Parks are usually located in high trafficked areas and New Yorkers walk by them every single day. So from a business perspective, parks are great real estate. From a human perspective, they are the most beautiful backdrop ever. There’s great scenery, people are happy to be there, and it’s rejuvenating to be connected to nature. The parks are a reprieve from city life and we strive to be a part of New Yorkers’ daily breakfast routines through which they can escape the urban madness here at this little oasis.
NYC Parks: What are your hours?
LD: We just focus on breakfast and operate in the mornings only. At Madison Square Park we’re here weekdays from 6:30 am to 10:30 am. At Coenties Slip, we’re open on weekdays from 6:00 am to 10:00 am. And at Prospect Park, we are open seven days: weekdays from 7:00 am to 11:00 am, Saturdays from 7 am to 2 pm, and Sundays from 8 am to 1 pm. We also provide catering throughout the city.