By Nick Eustis
Pittsburgh Current Contributing Writer
Forbes and Murray Avenue in Squirrel Hill is lined with both decades-old mainstays as well as fresh new faces in the business community. One of these new arrivals is Bull River Taco Company, which, since opening two years ago, has amassed a loyal following in the neighborhood.
Described by franchisee owner Matt Hurley as “a taco truck without wheels,” Bull River’s modest exterior hides a high-quality taqueria providing street style tacos for affordable prices to the Squirrel Hill community.
When did Bull River open?
We opened up in August of 2017, coming up on two years. I started working here about two or three months after that. The original owner hired me on to start running it and see how it goes. I took over and bought him out about two months after that. So he’s franchising and we hope to have more around the city, I own just this location.
What influenced the decision to open a taqueria in Squirrel Hill?
There’s no other tacos in the neighborhood! That was definitely one of the inspirations for opening here. One of the reasons that I wanted this place was because it’s unique to the neighborhood. There is a lot of variety, but not a lot of Mexican or Tex-Mex. So we feel like we kind of filled a void there, and people have been really receptive. They love it!
Why did you decide to buy the restaurant from the original owner?
I’ve been in restaurants my entire career, managing multi-units and things like that. I always wanted to have my own,I just waited for the right opportunity, because this is a tough business to be able to sustain. When this came along, after being here for a couple months, seeing how the neighborhood responded to it, seeing what a great product we have here, it was an easy decision when that time came.
Tell me a little about your tacos.
We serve hand-crafted, street-style tacos. Definitely not your Taco Bell taco, it’s a lot heartier. We shop locally, my wife and I actually shop in the Strip District on Saturdays and Sundays. We get all our produce from there.
Our meats are done so well by a local barbecue place called Spilly’s. They do our meats, they bring it over fresh every other day. The chicken and pork, it’s just so juicy, the way they do it.
From there, we whip them up together here. We make all our salads and sauces in house. I really love what we have here!
What do you like about running business in Squirrel Hill?
The sidewalk traffic, how there’s a lot of people walking in the area, using public transportation. It’s very accessible for professionals, for students, for families. Everybody’s in this area.
I’ve worked in different neighborhoods, and the community in this neighborhood is a little more close than in others. My first couple weeks here, almost every business owner on this block had come in to say hi. Many community organizations that are run through this neighborhood come through and ask how we’re doing. I think people just look out for each other around here.