May 4, 2012
Tex-Mex eatery opens downtown
Hot Tamale expands into Cortland after starting in Canton in 2010
Hot Tamale, a Mexican restaurant, officially opened its doors at 44-46 Main St., Cortland, on April 28.
So far, things have gone well, owner Marc Morely said.
“Things have been going smoothly,” he said. “People seem to enjoy the food and we’re happy to be a part of the downtown community.”
Morely and his partner Meg Martin opened the first Hot Tamale restaurant in Canton in February 2010.
The second branch opened in Potsdam just months later.
The pair decided on Cortland because it offered a suitable community and there were not any other restaurants like theirs in the downtown area, Morely said.
The burrito and taco eatery decided on a soft opening because it has 10 new employees.
“We didn’t do a lot of advertising because we needed time to train them all and make everything right,” Morely said.
Morely brought two other employees down to help train the new workers.
Hot Tamale bills itself as not just another fast food restaurant, but a fast and healthy restaurant.
“Our motto is homemade, healthy and in a hurry,” Morely said.
There may be a grand opening in the future but no date has been set.
Morely and Martin make a point to give each new restaurant a little local flavor.
They named three items after the mascots from local sports teams: the Red Dragon burrito, for SUNY Cortland; the TC3-V veggie burrito, for Tompkins Cortland Community College; and the Naked Tiger burrito bowl, for Cortland High School’s Purple Tigers.
Hot Tamale also features the Hot Tamale Challenge, which involves eating four massive burritos in 40 minutes.
If a customer finishes all four, the meal is on the house and the customer’s picture goes on the wall. Those who fail must pay for the meal.
Hot Tamale will be open seven days a week. Hours will be from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Sunday through Wednesday. It will stay open until 2:30 a.m. Thursday through Saturday.
Bob Haight, executive director for the Cortland County Chamber of Commerce, said bringing in new and different restaurants like Hot Tamale will help draw people to downtown.
“I think we’re looking at downtown becoming a real nice hub for lunch or dinner,” he said. “It will benefit the retailers and everyone else.”
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