BRATTLEBORO—With the help of his family and the community, a local food vendor has realized the goal that will allow him to move his business to the next level.
The mobile cart for Tito’s Taqueria arrived from Michigan in early May, reported owner Tito Garza, who has now taken his popular array of tacos and burritos on the road.
The primary site for his wares has been Avenue Grocery on Western Avenue, where Wednesdays through Saturdays, Garza drops off freshly made burritos. The lunchtime fare includes fresh tortilla chips, homemade guacamole, and pico de gallo.
Even after the grocery changed hands with Jean Maclean’s retirement, Tito’s Taqueria stayed.
But Garza’s goal was always to get a mobile taco cart, and in March, he raised $2,300 from a GoFundMe crowd-funding page toward its $4,500 price tag.
“It’s a standard cart,” Garza said, “but I ordered many add-ons.”
Radio station WTSA also set up a benefit keg toss at the Brattleboro Brewer’s Festival for Tito’s Taqueria, matched the funds, and handed Garza $2,000.
The rest came from savings.
Garza rolled out his mobile cart for its burrito debut during the Strolling of the Heifers Friday-night street fair and Saturday parade.
“It was a record weekend for us,” he said.
Beginning this month, Tito’s Taqueria will appear on Wednesdays in downtown Brattleboro, in front of the River Garden, Thursdays outside of the Cotton Mill complex, Fridays at Brattleboro Mobil on Putney Road by the roundabout, and Saturdays at the Retreat Farm.
Mondays are for prep, said Garza — and “Sunday is family day.”
Changing things up
Now that Tito’s Taqueria is going mobile, Garza is using the opportunity to make some changes to his business.
Tito’s Taqueria will cease bringing breakfast burritos to Avenue Grocery because, Garza said, the mobile taco cart will take up all of his prep time. He said they might return in the fall.
He has added a few part-time employees, including Maclean, who help out with kitchen prep and at catering events.
And Tito’s Taqueria will start selling paletas, traditional Mexican ice pops, from a separate, but adjoining, cart throughout the summer at special events and on Saturdays at the Retreat Farm.
The paletas, which Garza and his staff will produce fresh daily, are made with organic cane sugar and local produce when possible. Flavors include pineapple-jalapeño, avocado, coconut, lime, strawberry, and chocolate.
“There’s nothing better after a spicy taco than a lime paleta,” Garza said.
Within two years, Garza would like to achieve another goal: upgrading to a custom-renovated vintage Airstream trailer for Tito’s Taqueria — and finding a permanent location for it.
“I want a light-up neon sign that says ‘Tito’s Taqueria’ with a green jalapeño for the ‘i,’ and fairy lights,” said Garza.
But for now, Garza said, he is excited to bring his tacos and burritos to various points in town, and at special events.
He expressed his gratitude for “all the community in Brattleboro, for sure, for supporting the taco dream,” including Peter “Fish” Case, general manager of radio station WKVT.
“He got [Tito’s Taqueria] into Baconfest, our first event,” he said.
Garza pointed out his “number-one support” is his fiancée, Dakota Powell, who encouraged him to keep his focus on his goal to get the cart.
One of Garza’s GoFundMe donors — and a major inspiration — was Hope Vowels, his mother, who died shortly after donating to his effort.
Garza had words of praise for his mother, who raised six children on her own and made him tacos every year for his birthday.
Throughout the process of creating and finding success with Tito’s Taqueria, Vowels would often say to Garza, “I’m very proud of you. But I’m not surprised.”
He is considering dedicating his cart to Vowels by having “Hope’s Cart” painted on its side.