Alejandro Rodriguez and his business partner Edward Perea started Summit Tacos as a taco truck, but their dream was to open a storefront in Longmont to serve their passionate fans who adored their take on Mexican Street food. Now that they have their restaurant, they are focused on serving the cuisine of Mexico City to fans old and new. They worked hard from day one with their brand, and the many miles they put onto their food truck paid off once they opened up in Downtown Longmont. There's a lot of activity around their block in Old Town Longmont, and we're so fortunate that they are customers of ours.
Click play to listen in to our conversation, and check out the highlights below. You can also find Stickers on the Mic wherever you get your podcasts.
Highlights from the episode
We spoke to Alejandro about transitioning from their food truck business into a physical space and how they view food as culture and community. Since we were talking on May 6th, it was just after Cinco de Mayo, and they just had a very busy day even under the social distancing restrictions and Covid-19 precautions.
Stickers on the Mic: So tell us a little bit about Summit Tacos.
Alejandro Rodriguez, Summit Tacos: Summit Tacos really started out of a desire for Edward and I, the other the co-owner of Summit Tacos, it really just started out of a desire to just be in charge of running a business. We've been in the restaurant industry for a long time. He's been in the industry for about 20-22 years. He started very young at fifteen washing dishes and then he became a chef. Now he's our chef, I personally have been in the industry for 17-18 years, always working in front of the house. So I've been waiting tables, bartending. Just more again, more front of the house.
So, starting Summit Tacos, it just came from that decision of having been around things and also just been in the industry for a long time and the industry is amazing, but sometimes it can be, especially for us, like we did have some negative experiences about, being undervalued and under-appreciated in a lot of places. So we just decided, when we made. I don't know. Seven years ago at a restaurant in Dallas. We just got to talking and we're like, well, why don't we just start our own business, with our own own rules in. And then just create a different environment for our employees and for ourselves, we're not if we see talent. We're not gonna, we're gonna win a coach them to become better. And if they become better for us. That's amazing. But if they become better and they move on to better things. That's amazing, too, we just, again, we just wanted to create a different environment for us and our employees.
And then, in addition to all that also just our love for food, Mexican culture is very, very food oriented, just like many cultures. But for us, I think it ties a little bit to this language of love that we all have this connection, this personal and emotional connection with food. And it also goes back to working in restaurants and everything was so dry. And he was just greeting customers and just making money for the restaurant and pushing them out of the way. So that's another thing that we didn't want so when we started the food truck in order to stand out and be different. And again, I don't know. I don't think we ever saw it as a strategy. Again, we just wanted to treat people like they're family and that's truly how we see every one of you when you come through the doors. Same with the food truck. Again, we just wanted to show our ourselves and our culture in a plate in our food. We wanted to treat everyone like friends. One of the things I know that I definitely implemented as part of our business when we first started was really to do my best to learn everybody's name.
What's one of the things that I didn't want, well, I really hate going into place and just feeling like a stranger, like I'm just another number. So that's one of the things that I really emphasize is learning everybody's name, trying to get a little bit of the story and then share our story with them in order to create that emotional connection. And I think that was very successful because again just food brings people together
Stickers on the Mic: You are on South Collyer Street in Longmont, and you have this amazing space. When you began scoping out the building and looking at it, it was already a restaurant barbecue restaurant. So it has a little bit of association in Longmont, and now you have this opportunity to make your mark and you still have and operate the food truck where this all started?
Alejandro Rodriguez: We use it for special events.
Stickers on the Mic: Now, the focus is on getting people in the door.
Alejandro Rodriguez: Definitely
Stickers on the Mic: So how do you do that? Because it's May 6th of 2020, and we are not necessarily getting people in the door. We don't know what that future looks like, but prior to that you had a pretty good brand here in town. So you have to get people in the door. How do you do that?
Alejandro Rodriguez: Well, so at the end of the first few weeks of the restaurant. So the way that Edward and I see our success is just having this following. So we kind of see it as the past two years, with a food truck, we cannot see it as as marketing like free marketing, we we build up a following. And we build that reputation.
Alejandro Rodriguez: I feel like in the past three years that we've been running this business it be would kind of like we've been attending business school, just learning a lot about how to run our own business. And also the beauty of this is that we are growing instead of starting with a big concept and a big restaurant. We started very small and we are growing together with the business. And that's a really nice feeling, so that way we do it right every step of the way and know we're doing it right.
Stickers on the Mic: With that said, we're going into Summer of 2020: what are you looking forward to here? What kind of ideas do you have to continue, like you said, you're learning; what's next?
Alejandro Rodriguez: Well for us, one of the things that we want is to offer more more items. One of the things that we're thinking about doing in summertime is setting up either a little taco stand outside of on the patio so people can just go there in order tacos in see and also see their tacos being made right there, a better more street feel. And we also want to make popsicles. We're thinking about getting a cart out there. The challenge is what is going to be the new normal. We're excited, and we're looking forward to having every single one of you back into the space. We don't know what that's gonna look like yet.
Stickers on the Mic: We're excited about those new ideas, and I am encouraged by you having optimism and that's important. It's tough, but at the same time, here we are trying to create experiences. We're still trying to serve our customers through our business in the ways that we can and are expected to do. And provide that service and quality that we all want.
Alejandro Rodriguez: We love bringing food out to people and just seeing them enjoy it and smiling and for them to give us feedback and just say: "This was amazing. Thank you."