Thursday, July 9, 2020

Boy Named Marno

Zantigo disappeared in the 1980s and well, 
Most of them turned into Taco Bell, 
Loyal customers were left missing their old amigo. 
But their buildings still stood with wedges and arches,
Tall and proud like mighty hedges and larches, 
Stretching from the west coast to up north of Toledo. 
It's tough to see them in person, despite the allure, 
So I thought I’d take a virtual tour,
And rhyme about them to inflate my writer’s ego. 
So keep on reading as I stumble along, 
(I borrowed this rhyme scheme from a Johnny Cash song.)
So I could show you pictures of old Zantigos. 

I went to Minnesota in the before time,
Before I ever tried to make Zantigo rhyme.
And I found one in a vintage building in St. Paul. 
I had a mild Chilito with chips and cheese, 
But the food didn’t bring me to my knees.
What I really liked was the distinctive roof and walls. 

When I got back home to my own prefecture, 
I started seeing that same architecture.
Seems they were as prolific as TV’s Richard Grieco. 
Well that rental car agency in Lincoln Park, 
And that weird looking Wendy’s by the Belleville Kmart
Had both been built to operate as Zantigos. 

That got me thinking about the other places, 
Where businesses run in old Zantigo spaces.
I started looking for them when I was out on the road. 
I’d find them sitting empty or pushing payday loans, 
And they got easier to spot with my rods and cones.
I’d say, “There’s a Zantigo!”
Like I was playing Bingo,
I had cracked the code!

Well I learned about Zantigo from my dear old dad,
When he told me about a date he and my mother’d had, 
At a Lexington Zantigo before I was born. 
Mom stuffed extra tacos into her purse,
And if someone ate them, they’d wind up in a hearse. 
Because she forgot they were there for a week or more. 

Well my folks got together and my dad got lucky,
At some point after that date in Kentucky
So without Zantigo, I might not have ever been born. 
So far, I’ve been met with little resistance,
Thanking Zantigo for my own existence
Their food, like my poetry, is full of cheese and corn. 

Eventually, when you can go out and explore, 
Look for buildings with a brick arch door, 
Or a great big stucco wedge of Pecorino 
Whether they’re abandoned or selling Indian food,
Take a picture. Don’t worry, it’s not rude. 
Because you just found yourself an old Zantigo. 

And if you live up in the Gopher State,
Local Zantigo locations number half of eight. 
Plus the knockoff, Zanz, that’s open in Mankato
Stop in for a Chilito and tell them Zap sent ya,
They’ll look at you like you have dementia.
But they’ll be a great host just like OJ was to Kato. 

Well the weeks get longer and the months get wide, 
Since I’ve gone to a restaurant and eaten inside. 
But for now, there’s still far too much peligro,
So I’m drivin’ thru and using DoorDash,
Wearing my sweatpants, instead of my Jordache.
If I lived in Minnesota, I’d order food from... Embers, Happy Chef, and occasionally Zantigo!


  1. I was the. Lucky one... Masterpiece.

  2. Bravo, literally the first thing that has put a smile on my face today and I've been up since 5:30 a.m.

  3. Great parody song by a boy named Zap. Hope you've been doing well.

  4. i'm glad i was here to see it

  5. Didn’t Zantiago have the first dollar menu? I distinctly remember stopping there on the way to or from the public library when all I had was a bike or my feet for transport. If my memory is correct you could get the chips and a drink for 2$. I miss Zantigo!

  6. Any clue on the address of the Lexington one?

    1. It’s on New Circle on the north side between a Donato’s Pizza and a Captain D’s. The address of the Donato’s is 265 NW New Circle Road, and the old Zantigo is next door.