TULSA, Okla. — As Green Country celebrates Hispanic Heritage month, one local food truck owner is using her Venezuelan heritage to establish new roots in Tulsa.
Taco Loco sits just outside Pearl Beach Brew Pub. It's known for its Venezuelan arepas. They're an emblematic cornmeal cake, usually stuffed with steak, chicken, and other fillings.
“The arepas are absolutely phenomenal,” Stanley Brown said. “They’re fresh, they’re made right on-site, they are just...the flavor is very unique.”
The dish is a Venezuelan staple, but owner Ana Rivas is making it one of Tulsa's too.
“When you taste their food, it’s like they put a little love in there. It’s super good!” Victoria Jackson said.
Rivas and her 19-year-old son, Gustavo Gonzalez, launched the business last October. It was a time when restaurants struggled and many shut down, but this mother and son saw an opportunity and seized it.
“I opened it in the middle of the pandemic. I was not considered the wisest decision, but the recipe to success is having the willpower to make it happen, having the disposition, and staying positive,” Rivas said.
Their journey to reaching that dream has been one of perseverance. Rivas is a Stillwater native, at just six months old her parents took her to Venezuela, where she spent most of her life. Six years ago, she left everything behind to come to America, including her kids.
“It was pretty hard for me, I just saw her once in three years... it was just hard,” Gonzalez said.
She moved to Tulsa in search of a better life for herself and her family. After living away from them for so long, they are finally reunited after she filed a petition to bring both of her kids and mother to America. Now, her son is her business partner. He helps her run this food truck. Gonzalez said the road to help his mother reach her dream had rough patches, but he now sees the sacrifice is paying off.
“All those three years were worth it," he said. "Now, I’m happy now.”
Together, this mother and son found a recipe for success. They're using it to share a taste of Venezuela with Tulsa.
“I think Tulsa in general, especially the downtown area is very rich in diversity and culture in general and this certainly brings a lot of aspect to that. It shows that there are all types of different flavors and cultures and you know...things to celebrate and I know as a patron," Brown said. "I love having it here.”
Rivas said her next goal is to open another food truck because she wants the community to know her traditional arepas.
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