A fresh take on tacos

Nov. 20, 2013

By Rumasa Noor

Turning your passion into a business can be very fruitful just like it is in the case of Amador Cortez. He is the owner of the Mexican food restaurant  Taco Fresco, which offers a variety of Mexican food. After working in the restaurant businesses for several years, Cortez decided to open his own place to serve a different kind of Mexican food. Royal Purple sat down with  Cortez to find out more about Taco Fresco.

Royal Purple: What was the idea behind this restaurant?

Amador Cortez: The idea was to produce something within a reasonable budget that was fresh, that had love put into it. The food around here is good, but I worked on something that was creative to show people what good food really can be.

RP: What made you interested in opening a restaurant?

AC: My parents always wanted to open up a restaurant, and eventually they convinced me to come help them do this. Also, as a chef, it’s good to have this kind of experience in your career, to know how to open up a restaurant. I helped my parents open up a restaurant, and now I can leave and go on my next adventure.

RP: How has the journey been since you opened this place?

AC: It’s been crazy; I did everything from designing the menu, to the interior, the kitchen. In my family, I am the one who has been doing this my whole life, so I kind of knew what was going on. It’s been very stressful, but everything that I put into it is more rewarding because I know that I did it myself. It’s been very tough, but I loved it, and I have been getting great feedback from everyone, and that’s what it’s all about.

RP: How long have you have worked in the restaurant industry?

Cortez: It’s been nine years since I have been in the restaurant industry. I started out at Applebee’s which is very fast paced. Everything is microwaved and deep fried so nothing much there, but that was when I was still in college. From there, it’s been a lot of fun; I got to travel a lot since I worked for hotel chains, so that’s what made it easy for me to travel around so much and get more experience. It definitely made me very cultured, and also that the food is trendy, so you have got to follow the trend.

RP: Your experience must have helped you a lot with this place?

AC: I saw chefs come and go, so I learned a lot. I always worked under a chef, and I would always see what my co-workers were complaining about, so that’s what I tried to fix, and then also what negative feedback customers would give. Some chefs are angry and mean. They don’t care, but we treat our guys right because they are spending their money that they work hard for, so at my place, I make sure that when they come in, they get what they want.

RP: What’s your background?

AC: I was born in Mexico. I moved here to Whitewater about when I was 7 or 8, from there I went to school here all the way to high school, after that I went to Le Cordon Bleu in Minneapolis, from there I did an internship in Disney World Orlando for a while, I lived in Albuquerque and worked there in a resort, then from there came back and worked at Grand Geneva Resort for a while. From there I moved down to Texas and worked at a couple of luxury hotels such as Hyatt and just little privately owned restaurants here and there as well.

RP: What is your motto?

AC: I have thought of a couple of them. One of them is, “it’s more than just a taco.” It’s a lot more and I have lots of crazy specials, like some days I make shepherd’s pie, which is not really Mexican, but since I am in charge and being in charge means I can do what I want. I really want to be be more creative. So, “It’s more than just a taco.” I kind of like that one.

RP: How would you differentiate this place from other Mexican places?

AC: Besides the décor, I mix a little bit of everything, more contemporary modern but I am still more in love with the very traditional Mexican stuff like all the hand-made wood frames that I have around here. So everything is hand-made and we make everything fresh. I think that differentiates us, because I know some chains get their salsas frozen. We are the only ones that I know of that have our corn tortillas fresh, so when you are ordering up we are making them for you, and then just the different twist that I put in my food. Like, I have a curry potato taco, I have an Asian steak taco, just different stuff from around the world.

RP: Do you plan on expanding your restaurant?

AC: I want to keep this place just how it is, and maybe open up something bigger, and that would be more modern American, because that’s the kind of food that I have been cooking, and that’s what I really like.

RP: What’s your goal for the future?

AC: The goal is to keep this place more fun and exciting and keep the energy and hope that the vibe just stays. We also want to be innovative and keep up with the time. It’s a little bit old school in Whitewater, so I just want to give it a little push here.

RP: What advice would you like to give to the people who want to be entrepreneurs and who want to open up a restaurant?

AC: If you give it your all and you really have an idea and a passion, then just know that it’s going be very stressful but at the end of the day, once you are done doing stuff, it feels like the biggest goal has been accomplished. It makes you feel really good. The reward and the satisfaction are amazing. Every big company has started off small so you never know.

RP: Did you encounter any problems along the way?

AC: The hard part was to make it look like it looks right now. We kept tearing up stuff, one pile after another, so that was really tough to deal with, and trying to do it in a budget makes it even more difficult, but mission accomplished so far.

 

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