It’s been nearly a decade since Lloyd Rosenman, the owner of Mexican eatery Tocolo Cantina in Garden City and now Glen Cove, traded his career in business and finance for the restaurant industry.
And, while Rosenman admits that trading for First New York Securities was indeed financially rewarding, it wasn’t his passion in life.
“Yes, trading was lucrative, but also not very personally rewarding,” says Rosenman, who opened the second location of Tocolo Cantina about a month ago on the newly revitalized Glen Cove Waterfront.
Rosenman, who was previously also involved in his family’s Bronx-based oil business, which was eventually sold to Hess Oil, opened his first Tocolo Cantina in Garden City in 2014.
He explains that one reason he opted to open a Mexican restaurant was because he saw an unfilled need. He says that he started Tocolo because there weren’t many “great Mexican restaurants on Long Island.”
“I wanted to do something that was building a business. I feel like I’ve done that,” he says.
“We’re building a brand; a business, and it’s been fun. I’m enjoying doing it and I think our customers are also enjoying it.” He says that people of the North Shore who’ve come there are very happy that Tocolo is in Glen Cove.
Recent online reviews show that customers are giving Glen Cove’s Tocolo Cantina a big thumbs up. One reviewer wrote, “Wonderful food. Fantastic service. Tremendous atmosphere. This restaurant is fabulous,” while another praised the restaurant for its cocktails and crispy wings.
Rosenman says that customers were also very impressed with Tocolo’s spacious buildout. “We’re really proud of what we built at Glen Cove,” he says; the 4,500-square-foot space is much larger than the Garden City restaurant. The Glen Cove restaurant has 60 outdoor seats as opposed to Garden City’s 12.
How Tocolo Cantina Made It To Glen Cove
Asked what drew Rosenman to Glen Cove, he says it’s connected to the area’s resurgence.
“What RXR has done in Glen Cove has basically started the revitalization of the entire waterfront,” Rosenman says. “It really has a rich history…some people forget what a happening spot the city is.” He adds that RXR is the “reason we’re here.”
“They have 146 units at Village Square and then Garvies Point, a combination of high-end rentals and condos that are both doing well. These developments are changing the make-up of Glen Cove,” Rosenman says, noting that some people from Glen Cove say they no longer have to leave the area for good food.
He says while he believes the market is still underserved, the revitalization is changing the area for the better. “We’re excited about what Glen Cove is doing. “The way I see it, the more the merrier. It’s better for everyone if Glen Cove becomes more of a destination.”
“Tocolo Cantina’s opening at Village Square represents the realization of RXR’s long-standing vision for Glen Cove to become an activated, exciting destination for residents and visitors alike,” says Joseph Graziose Sr., executive vice president of Residential Construction and Development at RXR.
Moreover, he says, “This fantastic restaurant not only completes the retail portion of Village Square but also adds a sense of community and vibrancy that we’ve always hoped for. Congratulations to Lloyd and the Tocolo team – this is an exciting chapter in Glen Cove’s ongoing transformation.”
Asked about Tocolo’s unique style of Mexican cuisine, Rosenman said the restaurant has a strong California influence.
“I went with my brother-in-law to San Francisco’s mission district in search of new menu items and we tried to incorporate that influence…by using fresh ingredients in all our burritos and even fish tacos, which are a large part of California cuisine,” he says.
“We focus on using a good combination of flavors, like getting sweet and spicy using mangoes and peppers. Everything we do in the restaurant is made fresh, there are no bottled sauces. That’s what we’ve stayed true to from the beginning.”
Signature Dishes at Tocolo Cantina
Signature dishes include chicken, steak and shrimp fajitas, braised short ribs, and paella. “Fajitas are one of our most popular items,” Rosenman says, adding that “sometimes you have to produce what the customer expects and not try to be too fancy…. We do fajitas well…they’re not what everyone else is doing but they’re good.
Also featured are appetizers such as tortilla soup and chicken quesadillas as well as salads, tacos, a full cocktail menu with margaritas and sangrias, and, of course, Mexican desserts including flan and assorted churros.
Rosenman says that “In the span of nine years, we’ve refined a formula of what entrees and dishes work, sort of a greatest hits that people enjoy.” He adds, “People who know the brand are very connected to it.”
Directing operations in the kitchen is Executive Chef Ramiro Hernandez, who started with Tocolo working part-time, previous stints including Seasons 52. “He’s done a great job,” says Rosenman of the El Salvador native, who has been cooking Mexican cuisine since 2010.
“We’ve been off to a great start,” he says, noting that the venue now has an expanded weekend brunch menu featuring classic dishes like churro French toast.
Other features of the venue include a private dining room for events and, coming soon, a heated pergola with sides that close.
“Tocolo Cantina is very different from other Mexican restaurants…we have the best experience and passion for our food and drinks,” says Hernandez, who adds, “Passion lives here.”
Tocolo Cantina is located at 120 Village Square in Glen Cove. It can be reached at 516.222.0060 or .tocolocantina.com/location/tocolo-cantina-glen-cove