Tocabe: An American Indian Eatery has been open less than two weeks, but the sleek restaurant at 5356 East 44th Avenue has already gained a loyal following with its native American twist on fast-casual food.
And that following could grow -- fast-- if the liquor-license hearing scheduled for 9 a.m. today at the Wellington E. Webb building goes well. Tocabe is across the street from Billy's Inn, the very updated roadhouse that reopened earlier this year, but the competition shouldn't be a problem, since one of Billy's Inn's owners, Joe Vostrejs, is also listed on the liquor-license application as an owner of Tocabe, along with members of the Jacobs family -- including Tom Jacobs, who had the Grayhorse, a food-court spot on the 16th Street Mall with a native American focus, more than two decades ago.
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Now his son, Ben Jacobs, is bringing native American food to a new generation. He's in charge of day-to-day operations at Tocabe, and opening without a liquor license was no problem, he says, since "the focus here is the food."
But a beer never hurts -- and it certainly helped in the case of Chipotle, another homegrown fast-casual concept that really took off here.