Bursting with Flavour! Toro Taco + Barred Rock Before & After: Two Local Restaurants are Transformed into a Delicious Duo + an exciting share-to-win contest!



Seriously though, who doesn’t love tacos?  So when we were given the opportunity to add our own design flavour to the newest addition to Market Square, Toro Taco, we picked up our forks, put on our bibs, and dug in.

Toro Taco is the brainchild of Peter Stoddart and Jesse Vergen!  This takeaway offer fresh tacos, burritos, salads and rice bowls using unique, chef-influenced recipes, replete with fresh ingredients, inspired sauces, and more.  Additionally, Toro Taco has plenty of options for vegetarians and vegans. (As the vegetarian owner of Tuck says, “It’s one place where they actual honour vegetarians, not punish us!”) Located in Saint John’s Market Square next to its sister company, Barred Rock, Toro Taco immedidately became a popular food destination in the heart of Saint John. 

Having worked with Pete and Jesse in the past at the Saint John Ale House (See: SJAH Extreme Makeover Before & After, The Oh! Room, and our most recent collaboration, Design of Thrones) and Jesse’s own home with his wife Kimberly , we knew that this project was going to be a blast!


The quaint stall that was chosen for Toro Taco had a good layout and sturdy bones. However, low lighting, wood panelling, and unique architectural angles made for something of a challenge. The oddly-angled walls might have the steepest of these challenges.

Inadequate lighting cast dark shadows in the corners of the stall.



Our clients:  Jesse Vergen /Peter Stoddart
Contractors: Jonathan Wilkins (Peace of Mind Management)
Graphic Design/ Logos: Katie Goodz (3 O’Clock)
Cactus Wall Decals: Lise Hansen (Bonfire)
Interior Design & Creative Direction: TUCK INTERIORS / Judith Mackin (a tremendous shout-out to Joshua Hayes for his contribution to this project!)
All photography by Kelly Lawson
Toro Taco/ Barred Rock Staff



(all photos by Kelly Lawson)

Keeping in mind that Toro Taco would stand sympathetically next to Barred Rock, we used complementary materials and finishes but still made sure that Toro Taco maintained its unique identity. 

Organic elements were used throughout for both inspiration and visual integrity. With the amount of fresh and locally sourced ingredients used, it was only fitting that the design should mirror the business. 

The face of Toro Taco was covered in with a knotted pine board and Ceragres Extro Porcelain Hex wall tiles were installed to mimic the shape of mountains. Pops of colour were added to individual tiles by painting them Benjamin Moore Bulls Eye Red

We enlisted the services of Lise Hansen of Bonfire for the hand drawn cactus wall decals. Backlit cinema style signs (from Josh Devine at Atlantic Signs) were brought in to display Toro Taco’s customizable menu options. 

The EQ3 Jonah Pendants were hung above the food preparation station to add soft lighting and a touch of industrial material. Pendants available through Tuck. 

The design would not be complete without plenty of cactus plants! 


See all of the photos of the project below! 



Barred Rock’s story is simple.  

“We care about creating amazing, flavorful, bold food that you’ll go out of your way to get. Barred Rock isn’t what you might expect. It’s intense, delicious, and everything we serve is carefully made with the best ingredients available. The chicken we use didn’t cross some random stretch of road, it built its own road then crossed just for the hell of it. That’s the Barred Rock way.”

We fell in love with the idea behind Barred Rock: a quick service restaurant offering quality fried chicken using fresh ingredients. Peter Stoddart and Jesse Vergen had been dreaming up the idea for Barred Rock along with its sister company, Toro Taco, for some time. So when two spaces in Market Square went on the market, they were quick to get started. 


Barred Rock was lucky to close the deal on a spot that was previously home to a fast food company; that is, it came fitted with all of the necessary cooking equipment they needed to get things up and running. The counters and floors were both salvageable but were ready for a facelift. With the necessities in place, we could get to work changing the lighting, wall treatments, and re-facing the cabinets.

Cold fluorescent panels cast an unpleasant light onto the counters and floors. 



Graphic Design/Logos: Katie Goodz (3 O’Clock)
Wallpaper: Lise Hansen (Bonfire)
Interior Design & Creative Direction: TUCK INTERIORS / Judith Mackin / Joshua Hayes
All photography by Kelly Lawson
Printing Wall Decals: Alan England (In Color)
Contracting: Jonathan Wilkins (Peace of Mind Management)
Toro Taco/Barred Rock Staff
Clients:  Jesse Vergen & Peter Stoddart 


(all photos by Kelly Lawson)

Barn board, soft lighting and strong graphics of the Barred Rock chicken make stepping up to the counter of this restaurant feel like you’re stepping into a funky rural countryside. The delicate balance of textures, colour and material all contribute to the story and statement that Barred Rock stands behind. 

The countertop is made of a solid piece of reclaimed wood from Jesse’s shed and continues the schema of natural and rustic materials present in the rest of the restaurant. 

The EQ3 Ria Pendants create soft lighting that easily replaces the harsh fluorescent panels that were above the counter. They are available through Tuck.

The graphic on the left wall features stunning photography of the Barred Rock chicken. Their striking red combs add a pop of red that is emphasized by the opposite wall. The custom designed red Barred Rock wallpaper (by Lise Hansen) that is on the opposite wall adds colour and pattern to the space. 

We really wanted a design that would express Barred Rock’s incredible food. Their menu consists of fresh and local food that you really can’t get anywhere else. 

Jesse and Pete’s statement above really hit the nail on the head:  Barred Rock has built their own road, and we’re delighted that we had the chance to cross it with them.




As with most of our posts, we encourage sharing if you feel inclined!  We are collaborating with Toro Taco & Barred Rock to do a share-to-win contest! Either share this post through Facebook, Twitter or Instagram and your name will go into the draw to win a $50 gift card from Tuck and a $25 Gift Card to Barred Rock and a $25 gift card to Toro Taco!  


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