New, familiar businesses open in Village

Sancho’s Tacos and Nosy Neighbors Coffee and Donuts, right, are the new tenants at the former location of Heroes and Legends Bar and Grill on Yale Avenue in the Village. Courier photo/Andrew Alonzo

By Andrew Alonzo |

Two tenants have moved into the space on Yale Avenue in the Village formerly occupied by Heroes and Legends Bar and Grill: Sancho’s Tacos and Nosy Neighbors Coffee and Donuts.

Sancho’s Tacos

Sancho’s Tacos, owned by Donnie Lancaster and his wife Erika Young, opened last July on Yale Avenue in the Village. The first Sancho’s, in Huntington Beach, opened in 2010. They now have eight locations, four in Orange County, two in San Diego County, one in Kern County, and Claremont.

The genesis of the Claremont location started when their accountant, Josh Maguinness, who owns Root Tax, sent his clients a picture of the for lease sign hanging at 131 N. Yale Ave.

“It’s scary going into a new area,” Lancaster said. “It’s almost like you’re a kid going to a different school. It takes a while to be accepted. And a lot of the places that we have ventured into are tightknit communities.”

With dozens of Mexican food options in Claremont and Pomona, Lancaster was aware of local competition.

“Being in Southern California, opening a Mexican restaurant is definitely terrifying as far as competition’s concerned because there is real competition,” he said.

Sancho’s has thrived despite such competition. Lancaster knew that Orange County was dominated by Chronic Tacos. With no previous restaurant industry experience other than making tacos for family and friends while in high school, in 2009 Lancaster declared he’d open a taco shop that would rival Chronic. A year later, he did.

Sancho’s Tacos and Nosy Neighbors Coffee and Donuts, right, are the new tenants at the former location of Heroes and Legends Bar and Grill on Yale Avenue in the Village. Courier photo/Andrew Alonzo

“My quality, my food is so good that their customers will sneak behind their back and come to me,” he told his friends. Hence the name, as “sancho” is Spanish slang meaning the other man in an unfaithful relationship. “I am the other taco man, so that’s what it is. I’m who you cheat on your taco shop with.”

Business has been good. The owners pride themselves on giving customers good food and unique atmosphere, which in Claremont means upbeat music and a colorful design that incorporates animatronic sculptures.

The couple are planning on remaining in the Village for the long term, inking a 20-year lease.


Nosy Neighbors Coffee and Donuts

Keith Strenger opened Nosy Neighbors Coffee and Donuts around the corner of his fruit bowl shop, Pepo Melo, in October 2021. Now he has moved the shop about two blocks southwest to 133 N. Yale Ave., next door to Sancho’s.

Nosy Neighbors draws inspiration from Trish’s Mini Donuts, a shop at San Francisco’s Fisherman’s Warf, where visitors watch donuts move along an assembly line.

Nosy Neighbors’ new location is due to open at 7 a.m. Saturday, January 20. A special invite only event for coffee bloggers and influencers will take place the day before.

Looking to incorporate a larger menu, last year Strenger began thinking of expanding Nosy Neighbors as the tiny, 180-square-foot space at 305 N. Harvard Avenue served just coffee and donuts.

The new spot in the heart of the Village will allow Nosy Neighbors to offer lemonade, tea, and soda, and more varieties of food such as avocado toast, bagels, croissants, breakfast sandwiches, and lunch wraps. Tentative hours will be 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday and Monday.

Strenger is excited to be opening up at the nostalgic space. “I used to come here, to Heroes and Legends, all the time with my dad. Probably almost weekly,” he said. “I love the building. I love the space. I miss that they’re not here, but I think between Sancho’s and ourselves we’ll add a lot more character to the street.”

He’s also relishing the fact that Starbucks is just feet away. “I think we’ll compete with them but maybe in a more small town kind of way.”

Another Nosy Neighbors is due to open February 29 in Pasadena, with a third in Redlands sometime this spring, and Strenger projects another two locations by the end of 2024.


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