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  • Sun July 27 2008
  • Posted Jul 27, 2008
Thursday Night Taco Ride on the Wabash Trace Trail As the kitchen manager at Mineola Steakhouse, Erin Fisher has to prepare about 300 pounds of meat for the well-known Thursday night special: six tacos and a pitcher of beer. "I actually started on Thursday night, just for part-time. I started out doing prep work and running the fryers. I helped wash dishes and whatever needed done," said Fisher, 28, who is better known by his middle name "Boone." There was no hesitation when Clint Howard offered Fisher full-time work and the management role. "I liked it," Fisher said. "I liked how fast-paced the job was." The cook needs to be quick to keep up with nearly 1,000 bikers that cycle through during the evening. "It's got to be organized," he said. "You might have tickets for 10, 20 or 30 tacos at one time, plus you're making things like chicken strips and special orders. It takes a lot of timing." The wait staff begins taking food orders immediately at 5 p.m. and the kitchen stays hopping until the last ticket at 10 p.m. Filling last minute requests can take another hour. "There might be a small break, and it goes right back to being busy," Fisher said. "It can stay busy for up to five hours." Fisher praises his kitchen crew for tackling the demanding task. "I'm proud of what my kitchen group does on a Thursday," he said. "I'm confident they can handle it." One group of people is dedicated to assembling tacos in the kitchen and a second group provides the same service in the party room. "There are waiters and bartenders, too," Fisher said. "It takes a lot of people." Behind the bar, they start out with 12 gallons of margarita mix to quench the thirst of a wall-to-wall crowd. "It's stressful at times," Fisher said. "One of the things I like about this place is that we can be at each others' throats one minute and be okay the next. It's kind of like everybody is family here." The epitome of cooperation, the event was named one of the world's top 10 weekly events by "Bicycle" magazine. "All these cyclists come together, and they come from all over the country," Fisher said. "Last week I was talking to some guys from Chicago." The taco ride has been called the only event of its kind, and the longest running. Not to mention, a dedicated few will brave the beautiful limestone trail year round. "I can see the appeal of the rush," Fisher said. "I just can't believe these guys that fill up on tacos and beer and get back on their bikes to ride home." Fisher said he gets enough adrenaline just filling their orders. After about two years with the steakhouse on Main Street, he is still thrilled to be there. "This is the longest I've stayed in a restaurant. I had worked at McDonalds and Subway before but nothing like this," he said. "This is a family restaurant. Friday and Saturday nights are more family-oriented. A native of southwest Iowa, Fisher recently moved from Mineola to Glenwood with his wife, Amy, and six-month-old daughter, Layla Marie. "I love to spend time with my daughter and wife," Fisher said. "That's about all I do with my spare time besides play my guitar." A huge fan of music in general, Fisher can often be heard above the radio during the 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. lunch hour. "I'm sort of waiting for somebody to discover me," he smiled. Until that time, Fisher is content to serve the small town of 200 and the strangers who ride in on the Wabash Trace, load up on tacos and ride home again. "I'm allowed to be myself," he explained. Writer Sunshine Dalton can be reached at editorial@nonpareilonline.com

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