FARMINGTON — Husband and wife duo Garnet Keim and Anne Holloway had no idea what to expect when they rolled their Mexican food truck, El Toro, onto the Farmington food scene in late May.

Four months, a few lessons learned and a loyal following later, the Weld couple is opening a brick-and-mortar version of their Mexican street-food business.

Despite not having any long-term plans initially to keep the food truck going into the winter months, the positive response Keim and Holloway received from patrons regarding El Toro’s food and their service is motivating them to keep it going and expand their business model.

“I just feel like we were out there and the response has been so good. It makes you happy to serve people good food and see the expression on their face,” Keim said. “I don’t think we could shut it down; (our customers) would kill us.”

El Toro’s new physical location in the Eastside Mall on Farmington Falls Road will open Tuesday. The storefront will be serving an expanded version of the menu offered by the food truck over the summer for take-out and delivery.

After launching the food truck in May, the on-wheels version of El Toro was parked at several locations over the summer offering authentic Mexican-inspired food derived from recipes Keim picked up in his travels to Mexico, Costa Rica and Belize.

Keim always thought serving up Mexican food in the Farmington area — which previously didn’t have any similar offerings — would be a good idea. But he’s been blown away by just how well his idea has been received by the loyal customer base the couple says they have formed.

“It exceeded our expectations. (Business) has been straight out,” Keim said. “We’re just busy all the time and feeding lots of people every day.”

But like anything started from the ground up, the couple says they’ve spent a lot of time perfecting and fixing things as they begin to understand the flow of the business.

In addition to their core menu of tacos, burritos and quesadillas, El Toro take-out will offer enchiladas, wet burritos, nachos and specials such as tortilla soup and fish tacos.

The food, as it has been prepared on the truck, is made entirely from scratch using locally sourced ingredients when possible, the couple said.

On Wednesday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. the bright red and black former bread truck was found in the Gifford’s Ice Cream parking lot often accompanied by a sprawling line. Then, from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m., El Toro could be found parked outside of Tuck’s Ale House in downtown Farmington with a festive string of chili lights drawing the bar-goers outside for some street food.

From generators blowing, to fridges failing, to having to close up shop for the day because they’ve run out of food, Holloway said, the food truck has been a constant learning experience: “I feel like it hasn’t settled at all. I feel like it’s been this very steep, steep learning curve every day.”

So why the desire to extend the business’ offerings? Keim and Holloway both answered that question easily: the people.

“All of that hard work was worth it when you have people come back and thank you for the great food or write me a note saying, ‘Your customer service was awesome,’” Holloway said. “It’s all about the people. Otherwise, you would lose your motivation.”

Sharing their passion for authentic and simply served Mexican food was the motivating factor behind starting El Toro. Keim had always toyed with the idea of a food truck, inspired from his time spent living in Seattle, Washington, where he met Holloway before they decided to move back to his home state of Maine to raise their family.

With the new space and a staff that has grown from just Keim and Holloway to six employees — and now a delivery driver — the couple says El Toro will be able to offer a more extensive menu and variety to their customers that the food truck couldn’t accommodate.

In addition to their current list of local suppliers, El Toro will be partnering with the owner of Rustic Roots Farm in Farmington, who has agreed to grow produce such as lettuce and tomatoes especially for the food truck and take-out business next summer, Holloway said.

“That’s really exciting that next spring she’s going to be our one-stop farm,” Holloway said.

The take-out location will be open 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday.

The opening of El Toro’s take-out location comes with the food truck’s last week parked at the Farmington Gifford’s Ice Cream. Keim said that the food truck will still be used through the winter for special events or nights at Tuck’s. But with the cold weather season just around the corner, he thinks that converting over mainly to the take-out location for the winter months is a safe bet.

“I’ve heard of some food trucks making it in Alaska or Minnesota (in the winter), but it slows down so much, it’s inevitable. Who wants to stand out in the parking lot?” Keim said. “I could be proven wrong, but I think this is a smart way to go.”

Lauren Abbate — 861-9252

[email protected]

Twitter: @Lauren_M_Abbate

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