T-Town Tacos serves up breakfast to downtown residents as well as jobs for at-risk youth

TULSA -- While many are still asleep, Niccolo Broomhall is already awake making breakfast for more than just himself.

"I'd rather work a night schedule, but I can work with any schedule," Broomhall, 24, said. "It's just another time to me."

Almost every weekday morning, Broomhall gets up before sunrise to work in the kitchen at the Community Food Bank of Eastern Oklahoma, which partnered with Youth Services of Tulsa to create a breakfast taco business called T-Town Tacos.

"We serve a lot of youth at Youth Services of Tulsa," Wes Rose said. "This was just an excellent means to not just give them some job experience, but something to put on a resume and a paycheck."

Rose works as a social enterprise specialist at Youth Services. He oversees the T-Town Tacos project, which began putting some of the young people in the nonprofit's transitional living program to work last year.

"It's a really incredible program that gives youth a fully-furnished apartment," Rose explained. "There's a lot involved in the program as far as skills classes and money management and, with T-Town Tacos, job training."

The food bank opened its kitchen and provided instruction to the nine young people that have worked for T-Town Tacos so far. Rachael Poole, the food bank's assistant chef, said the partnership has been rewarding.

"I just love it," Poole said. "I love helping the community and being involved with the youth and maybe teaching them a trade that they can go on and take with them and be successful in their life."

The tacos are sold every weekday morning in a different spot downtown. Rose always sends out a quick social media post to let customers know where to find them that day.

He and the employees then take their tricked-out tricycles to the location and set up a mobile taco stand, where they wait for people to stop and place their orders for a few hours.

Each taco sells for three dollars and comes in four different flavors: bacon, sausage, chorizo and veggie. Broomhall has helped make the tacos for the past few months, which marks the first time he's made food for other people.  

"It's fast-paced," the 24-year-old said about the work, "but I like to be busy when I'm at work."

Broomhall does not plan to sell tacos forever, and Youth Services does not expect him to either. The job is supposed to be temporary while he and the other young people figure out their futures.

"One really common thing I've seen with our youth is they don't need a lot of intensive, hands-on training as much as they need a space with which to learn themselves," Rose said. "They're very self-motivated to do that. They just needed the opportunity."

Rose said T-Town Tacos would eventually like to sell tacos at lunch, and right now they're testing out recipes so that people won't have to get up so early to find the tacos.

To learn more about T-Town Tacos and to find out where it will set up its mobile taco stand next, follow its Twitter page and like it on Facebook.

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