This July 4th weekend the Royal Oak Taco fest is happening for the first time. We talk with organizer Jonathan Witz about the festival, what to expect, a new family-friendly feature and more.

Then, I run down five quick stories to know around town. As always, for more, check out our newsletter:


Daily Detroit’s podcasts are meant to be heard. That means there are emphasis, tone and audio elements that a transcript can’t capture. Our transcripts are generated using a combination of automated software and human transcribers, and may contain errors, so please check the audio before quoting it.

Jer Staes 1:01
Joining me on the line, John wits How are you sir?

Jonathan Witz 1:03
I’m doing great Jer. How are you? So excited to be chatting with you.

Jer Staes 1:07
Yeah, me too. Because you know, who doesn’t love a good taco? I mean, really.

Jonathan Witz 1:14
They, for all that we disagree on in society. I think tacos could be the thing that brings it all together if we need it. So for sure.

Jer Staes 1:22
And I am for taco trucks on every corner. Let’s talk about the new Taco fest that the you’re putting together the Royal Oak taco fast, which I’m, I’m interested to hear more about because this is the first year right?

Jonathan Witz 1:37
It is yeah, we’re thrilled. And I think again, you you take the theme of tacos Of course, tequila margaritas come along with that and you put that into the city of Royal Oak which is known for festivals known for a great backdrop of bars, restaurants and retail with plenty of parking I think you have the recipe to use a good food term for major success and and I think we’ve got a good party weekend on the Fourth of July and those that are not traveling up north will be treated to some amazing food and drink for sure.

Jer Staes 2:17
Well and that’s the thing like not everybody goes up north in times that I haven’t been I’ve always been kind of kind of looking for something so you know, you have a long track record of well attended events, if people don’t know whether it’s like the winter blast or its beats needs things like that. So why attacco fast?

Jonathan Witz 2:34
You know, I think I think that there’s been success there and it’s interesting to us because we do get approached you know, by entity cities etc for doing events and a gentleman who’s been involved in past taco van and other events a guy named John banana check who’s been doing cool events around town brought this idea. And you know him and I agreed to partner and put our skills together and I think it’s it’s going to lead to, you know, a really great lineup. I think one of the things that we bring to the table that’s you know, that’s, you know, more than just a typical, quote taco event is live music, I mean, we will have our three stages.

You know, there will be some Mexican Spanish themed bands that will be announced soon, but we love to feature the Detroit music scene. It’s diverse, it’s talented, so we’ll have a lot of music on stages.

We’ll also mix in strolling mariachi bands so you can be serenaded while you’re enjoying your tacos. Some people might want to be private with their tacos some people would like a serenade why they’re enjoying it so we’ll we’ll have that going on.

We’re going to mix in you know a taco eating contest a hot pepper contest some Lucha Libre wrestling to, you know, to have some some fun and have some kind of unique and I’ll say it for a taco, cheesy entertainment to add to the the festival and, you know, I think it’s going to be a really great weekend. And I think it’s going to hit Royal Oak at a time.

You know, some of these holiday weekends aren’t as busy for downtown’s. And we expect to bring you know 25 to 30,000 people a day down for this.

Jer Staes 4:25
And there’s been so much happening in downtown Royal Oak as of late and so where’s the footprint of this going to be there because I mean, downtown Royal Oak is gonna be kind of a big place.

Jonathan Witz 4:35
It is and there’s some construction on Main Street so we’re definitely not closing that and we’re leaving Washington open as well. We’re using a footprint that we do for the rock and rides festival. So we’ll use Fifth Street in front of Fifth Avenue and oh tools and that’s a great party Street and they’ll be a lot of adult focused, you know, live music and DJs there will stroll down Center and the cession of taco trucks and we’ll get into a great list in a minute of that folks that have already signed up within a couple of weeks of announcing this I mean, we’re already full.

So that’s, that’s cool. But we’ll we’ll we’ll go down Center Street will utilize two parking lots there’s kind of a triangle lot that’s bordered by center and six and then there’s a big lot that we use for the main stage at art speeds and aids that’s going to be used so we’ll take center will go down to sixth street a little bit west toward Washington where the oak City Grill kind of be a border you know, for us and then we’ll use seven and our family activities will be on seven then one thing that we’re coming up with that we’ll we’ll break with you guys is that we’re working on a real cool splashzone.

Oh, just because of the time of year we’re going to work on some kind of water activity or event just to stay cool and have some fun so you know more on that’s coming soon.

Being right in July, I think you know, you should have something you know fun and cool literally cool for you know, kids to enjoy. But man, I’ll tell you our taco lineup is looking crazy right now with the restaurants we have signed up.

Jer Staes 6:15
Yeah. And so what has been the response of that? You said that you’re already full.

Jonathan Witz 6:19
Yeah, so we’re in touch with a lot of food trucks and word seem to get out organically on this pretty pretty quickly. So I mean, just to mention some of the great ones that are that are just Mexican Diem buffets. Mexico Asian cosmic burrito. Drunken rooster does a great Mexican Spanish flavored corn. Casa moto el poquito taco truck. I’ll talk overlies the lindows El taco dosha Whoa, los dos amigos tacos. Peace, love tacos. You gotta have some peace out there. You know with what’s going on? Real taco Express tacos. Elka biosci. New York tacos board Latino. The taco truck vegan Nova. You know, we have several of the taco Trump’s offering. Vegan tacos and vegan Nova certainly does it. Great. They want awards and our harvest festival, harvest Fest and food truck rally in Detroit last fall tacos eau de Oh, torta Express.

Jonathan Witz 7:26
And then there’s some other restaurant and food trucks that will mix in there. So we have as you can see a stellar lineup. And I think you got to be careful if you’re going to draw a lot of people like we think we are and hype this up. You got to make sure you got plenty, plenty of places for them to go. Logistically, I know your events have kind of done it in different ways in the past, how are people going to get tacos this time is going to be cached to the trucks is going to be tickets? How are you going to do that? Well, we definitely are eliminating the tickets will you know we don’t have any events right now. Since we made the change at art speeds and AIDS, there’s you no longer have to buy tickets. So everything’s cash and credit directly. There’s a $7 discount admission and advance $10 at the door

Jonathan Witz 8:12
you know, we do want serious taco extraordinaria you know patrons that come to this event. So there’s a small coverage charge to qualify and, and help with expenses and and you know, the, the they’ll just be able to go right up to the trucks and the booths and the stands and just pay with cash and credit. So it’ll be logistically pretty smooth, especially again, with the advanced ticket sales we ever get people in quick and you know, just you know, just flash a ticket and we’ll get you started on you know, on a real, you know, a thrill for the senses and the tastebuds

Jer Staes 8:49
Royal Oak is a central location. So it’s kind of clear to me like why it seems to be a winning place for you to do things. So when I think about central locations, I also think about things like parking so can you speak on that really quick?

Jonathan Witz 9:03
Yeah, I can and will really be focused on that again, there’s some construction Main Streets gone to one lane so we’ll really be encouraging finding the parking decks off 11 mile and off of Lafayette I mean, Lafayette or even closer, you know, there’s 1000s of parking spaces that are available. I do not believe the city is planning on charging anything different for parking. So that means that the parking decks free for the first two hours and 75 cents additional hours. So I think the parking deal will be incredible. And as based on demand and where we’re at like at art speeds and needs, we’ve added a shuttle if we feel like advanced ticket sales are high and things are, you know, are building up we want to make sure that things are logistically, you know, organized for folks and we’ve had a track record of that and we will remind people of the Main Street construction and how to best get in and Avoid the little bit of traffic that that’s going to cause I mean we’ve done big events and royal law without without having traffic jams and and you know we plan on having good communication with the media and our patrons on the best way to get around so we pledged everybody you know smooth, smooth sailing on getting in and getting your tacos and and don’t forget that tequila two tequila sampling frozen margarita trucks. Lots of good partnerships going to be announced there so we’ll have some survey says some tequila and some tacos and mixing some family fun too.

Jer Staes 10:36
Oh, also mentioned to that you know, some people I know might you know look at a parking garage and maybe they’re not as used to it but Royal Oak is eminently walkable like if you live near downtown Royal Oak if if you can get and get there like it’s a joy even if you are parking a block away or something like that. It is a joy to walk through Royal Oak it’s definitely a space that and I think it’s one of the things that makes it stand out in the region.

Jonathan Witz 11:00
Well, you know, and I’m so glad you mentioned that because I think that there’s two reasons that I wanted to touch on that point. The first one is you know, if by some reason again missing just goes crazy and there are, you know, lines for food and things like that one of the great things about arts beats and eats and winter blast the interaction, you know, people love a wristband, and when they come in, they’ll be able to leave the site, enjoy that walk through, you know, they can go to CANADOS tacos or they can go to Mesa, they can they can go to Luigis or lilies or Fifth Avenue or so many other places for food drink nightlife entertainment there. So that is one thing that I completely agree with. And it really is a backstop. You know, for people who need an extra place to sit or just don’t want the hustle and bustle of crowds are so many places to dine and escape to and then the other thing I will also break on this interview is that we are working with the railroad Restaurant Association on a taco week leading in so restaurants will be featuring tacos, discounted special tacos, you know, one per restaurant at most of the restaurants in the week leading up and through the weekend. So, the festivities of Royal Oak taco Fest will be preceded and complemented by a local taco week that is in production and construction right now just to add to the festivities. So I think you know, as you said, it’s a just a dynamic, great backdrop and collaborative venue to host a festival like this.

Jer Staes 12:38
Well, I know that listeners of mine are always excited about tacos, and I’m excited to hear about that news. All right, the Royal Oak taco fest royal of taco July 1 through fourth. Thank you, John Woods for your time on Daily Detroit.

Jonathan Witz 12:51
You’re welcome. Buy your tickets now. It’s going to be crazy. Thank you. Thanks so much. Take care.

If this is your first time meeting the show, don’t forget to follow us on Apple Podcasts or wherever you download your favorite shows.

If you love what we’re doing, consider support us at:

Share this post