Food Truck Provides Perfect Showcase for this Entrepreneur

Food trucks are a fairly new way to dine in the Norfolk, Nebraska, area. Eight years ago, Arcadio Zepeda wanted to start his own restaurant. He had been working at Michael’s Cantina, a popular Norfolk restaurant, and knew how to make food that people would enjoy eating.

Arcadio set up a canopy at the Norfolk soccer fields for Sunday league play in the summers, and people enjoyed the food he learned to cook growing up in Guadalajara, Mexico. His brother had operated food trucks in California for years, so he knew that was an option. With REAP's help, Arcadio purchased a food truck from a Florida company and opened “Tu Casa.”

“I was a kitchen manager but wanted to do something more. I like a challenge and am always looking for something else,” Arcadio said.

He started making and selling Mexican food from the truck that sat on a lot in nearby Madison. But at the request of his many customers who were driving down from Norfolk to eat, last summer he moved the truck to a lot in Norfolk near a busy intersection at 13th Street and Norfolk Avenue.

His brother Ebodio joined him, and together they now serve 12 menu items of authentic Mexican food from their truck on Thursdays 11 am to 11 pm, Fridays 11 am to 1 am, and Saturdays 4 pm to 1 am. Their most popular item? A two pound Mega Burrito.

Arcadio is enjoying the flexibility of taking his food truck to other venues like the Madison County Fair, Big Bang Boom, Tilden Prairie Days, and even some private parties.

“People ask if food trucks have to be inspected. Yes, we do. In fact, every time we got to a different event, we have to be inspected again. The food inspector is at our food truck the same if not more than at sit down restaurants,” Arcadio said. He posts permits from the City of Norfolk and the State of Nebraska near the serving window of his truck where his clientele can see them.

Local restaurants make up a key portion of small businesses, with nine out of 10 restaurants having fewer than 50 employees. It’s estimated that 80% of restaurant owners start their careers in entry-level positions. This year, a Dine Small movement was part of Small Business Saturday. It's a great way to support our local entrepreneurs and the people they employ at the holidays and year round.

This story first appeared in the City of Norfolk Insider. It was developed as an effort of the Norfolk area Small Business Resource Team, a group of 12 area economic development entities, including REAP, who  work together to provide assistance to owners of small businesses.