Taco truck setting up shop in Charles City this weekend
By Kelly Terpstra, firstname.lastname@example.org
Where there’s family, there’s sure to be food.
Mix the two together and you’ll often get a recipe full of love and devotion.
That’s Barbara and Maria’s Tacos.
The taco truck, run by Jessica Rivera and her family, will make its debut in Charles City this weekend in the parking lot of Schueth Ace Hardware.
From 11 a.m. until 11 p.m., Rivera will have her taco truck open to the public starting Saturday for three consecutive days. The truck is named after her mother, Maria.
“This is going to be a new adventure for us,” said Rivera, who has lived in Charles City for around 20 years.
Look for Mexican-inspired menu items like street tacos, tortas, burritos, tostadas and quesadillas. Rivera’s staff will also serve nachos, walking tacos and Mexican sodas in the parking lot alongside South Grand – one of Charles City’s busiest streets.
Rivera said she will put up at least two tents near her truck so clientele can dine and enjoy their food sitting down at tables.
Rivera is hoping her food is a hit with customers in Charles City.
“That’s what we’re praying for,” said Rivera, age 41.
Rivera also plans on catering to customers at the downtown Farmers Market in Charles City on Wednesdays and Saturdays. She’ll also be selling her food once a week on Thursdays at Precision of New Hampton, an auto parts manufacturer.
And don’t be surprised if you see her at Charles City’s Party in the Park or at the Floyd County Fair later this summer as well.
“We all love the food. We all love the environment and everything,” said Rivera. “This is where we live. This is where we want to be. We want to do it here. We want to do it in our own hometown.”
What’s Rivera’s secret ingredient that inspires many of her culinary dishes?
“We’re giving it a lot of love. I think that’s the biggest flavor, I guess, of the whole thing – when you do it with love,” she said.
Rivera graduated from high school in Eagle Pass, Texas – the first American settlement on the Rio Grande River that separates “The Lone Star State” from Mexico.
She remembers selling all kinds of food items and other goods near the United States-Mexican border with her father when she was growing up. She said her father would buy big pallets of stuff and that’s where she learned some of her business savvy.
“That’s where the commercial part comes in. I used to love to do that with him – always every weekend,” said Rivera. “It’s an opportunity to do something I really, really love.”
Rivera’s brother, Guillermo Gonzalez, and her sister, Tatina Hernandez, each graduated from Charles City High School. Hernandez was the first family member to make a foray into the food truck business. She opened Santa Barbara’s Tacos three years ago in Charles City. Jessica has incorporated that part of her sister’s name into the truck, but there will be changes.
“Our seasoning is going to be different,” said Rivera. “We do not know how to cook little portions. We’ve always cooked good portions.”
All members of Rivera’s family at some point will help with the food truck’s operation.
“We’re a big family of eight – four girls, four boys,” Rivera said.
Rivera encountered a scare two years ago when she was diagnosed with uterine cancer. She says she’s doing better, but she still gets weak from time to time.
“I have a really big and loving family. We all stick together through good and bad,” said Rivera.
Rivera helped her sister Tatina run her taco truck. Now it’s Jessica’s time to make a go of it, albeit with some different twists and turns that have led her to this weekend.
“This time around – I went through cancer and stuff – and it gave me a different view of life,” said Rivera. “We all pitched in. We all helped her when she did it. It was pretty awesome. This time around I still want them to know it’s still the same family.”
Rivera’s radiation treatments killed good cells in her body as well as the ones filled with cancer. She gets checkups now every six months.
“I don’t want to miss out on my family at all. I want to be close to them,” said Rivera. “This will give me the opportunity.”
Rivera bought her taco truck from a restaurant with a similar name – Maria’s Tacos in Marshalltown. The owner retired and sold one of her two trucks. The restaurant is still in business in downtown Marshalltown.
It was just happenstance and a bit of comical cioncidence that Jessica’s mother’s name was also Maria.
“Those are my friends. Those are the ones that sold me the truck,” laughed Rivera. “The way I left it like that is because it’s for my mom. It’s like saying thank you.”
The money that Rivera would pay for rent to Ace Hardware to have her stand open in the parking lot will be donated directly to Messiah’s Food Pantry.
“That was very neat of them to do,” said Rivera, about Schueth Ace Hardware owners Doug Schueth and Jackie Perkins directing the money to the pantry.
Rivera’s dream is for the food truck to have much success – one day allowing her to open her own restaurant.
“If God permits it, then sky’s the limit,” she said.