Food truck owner offers Fremont residents authentic Mexican fare


Para la versión en español, oprima aquí. Carlos Barcenas contributed to this story.

For the past few summers, residents of Fremont, Nebraska, have had the good fortune to be able to sample authentic coastal flavors from Guerrero, Mexico, without leaving town.

They have Irma Lopez’s love of cooking and desire to share her passion to thank for that opportunity.

“Everything is published on social networks these days, and when I cooked a dish I would take a photo and share it,” Irma said. “People would ask me, ‘Did you make that to sell?’ And my answer was, ‘No, that's what I ate today,’ and they would encourage me to sell my food.”

Irma realized that if she made food to sell on the weekends she might be able to make a little extra money, and she was correct.

“I made some sales from my home and people kept asking me for my food,” she said. “Since my dishes were selling well, I decided that I wanted to open a small business.”

Through an announcement in her church, Irma learned about a small business conference that she attended to learn more about starting her own operation. There, she met staff from the Center for Rural Affairs who gave her the information she needed to proceed with her plan.

Irma applied for a loan with the help of Center staff and received funding in April 2021. She used the money for startup expenses and raw materials for her food truck, Sabor Costeño, which opened the next month. Since then, Irma has kept her operation open during the summer months.

Luis Franco, senior loan specialist with the Center, has helped Irma with questions and  business needs.

“Irma offers the community a great variety of dishes and efficient customer service,” said Luis. “Her willingness to learn and improve their offerings will take Sabor Costeño to the next level.”

She also attended several virtual classes hosted by the Center including accounting workshops, classes on how to grow her business, and more. (Click here for a list of our current workshops.)

One of the most valuable things Irma has learned is the importance of getting to know her customers.

“In the food business, you learn what people like most, and what food to prepare for all types of people,” she said. “Unfortunately, it is not a restaurant. I can't make food for every preference. “At the moment, I don't have a vegan or vegetarian menu, but my sauces identify my business. People buy them by the bottle. I make very spicy sauce and I make sauce that is not spicy.”

Along with her sauces, Irma prepares all of her dishes from scratch to offer truly homemade food.

“I sell typical Mexican food, originally from Costa Chica where I am from,” she said. “It is the flavors that we use with homemade and handmade ingredients and dishes. For example, if I make a mole, I don't buy the sauce for the mole, I make it myself.”

She offers a variety of dishes prepared by her and one other full-time employee. Irma says she offers more than people might expect from a typical food truck.

“I don't just sell tacos and burritos,” she said. “I have a large menu, and the food is very good, and it's fast. People who come to lunch don't spend more than 15 minutes waiting for their food and they like that. They tell us that they come here because it is fast, and we try to do our best to satisfy each client.”

Customers have been so impressed with Irma’s cooking that she’s received numerous requests to cater events, which she has happily obliged. For each event, she prepares two to three dishes and drives her food truck to the location of the business or company requesting the service.

Although Irma has been very happy with how her business has progressed, she’s faced some hurdles. In October 2022, she was forced to change the location of her truck, where she had already established her business.

Irma had to look for another place with only a few months left in her open season and found a spot on the other side of the street from where she was originally. However, that location was more expensive than she could afford long-term, so before the next season Irma had to find yet another place to park her food truck.

“I wanted to be on the same street because it is a busy street, so I found a place where they would rent to me,” Irma said. “Before opening, we started publishing our new address online. Unfortunately, not all people are on Facebook or social networks. The first few months we were very slow, but we put up banners in the street announcing that we were open. Little by little, more people began to arrive. The first four months were low in sales, but after that it started to improve.”

Irma still enjoys being a business owner, and she hopes to open her own storefront restaurant eventually. She encourages other entrepreneurs to give their best effort if they decide to start their own operations.

“I do what I love, and being a business owner gives me the flexibility to run things how I want,” she said. “Don't wait until you have a lot of money to start, everything is possible with a little, and if you have a dream, try it. If you have the desire to grow, you can do it. Don't be afraid to embark on a journey; if I can do it, anyone can do it.”

And, since her experience working with the Center has been so beneficial, Irma recommends the organization as a great resource for new business owners.

“I have never worked with a center like this, and they helped a lot,” she said. “There are many people who really want to do something and they do not have instructions or cannot find resources because of the language barrier. The Center gives you the information that you need in Spanish, and they are very accessible and work with your schedule.”

Are you in need of financing for startup expenses for your business? Contact your regional loan specialist. Find yours at

At a glance

Sabor Costeño, LLC
Irma Lopez
2310 E. 23rd St.
Fremont, Nebraska
Hours: Tuesday through Saturday 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.