For the last seven months, El Taco Amigo 3, an authentic Mexican food truck, has been setting up shop in the same parking lot as King Cronic, serving the people of Yelm all sorts of Mexican cuisine.
The owner, Jose Corona, said he moved to Yelm from Mexico more than 14 years ago and has been in the food industry, honing his craft locally, ever since.
After working strictly in restaurants, Corona decided to take his experience and branch out on his own.
To that end, he worked with one of his brothers, Raul Corona, in a Lacey food truck as a family apprentice of sorts until he was ready to cut his own teeth on the business.
Since cooking is a gift that comes to Jose Corona naturally, he was ready to operate his own truck, said partner Yalina Valencia, who also translated for him in an interview with the Nisqually Valley News. However, the reality of starting a business was much different than either had expected. Valencia said she and Jose Corona worked hard to ensure they obtained all the correct permits and met all the codes involved in starting up a mobile restaurant.
Once they had jumped through all the necessary hoops, the rest was the easy part — cooking.
Jose Corona said he loves to prepare any type of Mexican food, but steak, grilled chicken and beef tongue tacos are among his favorites to prepare. He said he hopes that all people in Yelm come and give his business a shot, and that he’s thankful for the customers he already has.
“We’ve got very good clients, excellent customers,” Jose Corona said through a direct translation. “We can’t complain about our customers. They’ve been great.”
Yet, he said some potential customers have been turned off because of the truck’s proximity to a marijuana store.
“He knows that some people are reluctant to come and try them because of the location (near the pot shop) because some people have strong opinions on that, but he wants people to know that they have great food and that everyone that likes Mexican food should come and try it,” Valencia said.
Jose Corona added that in 14 years, he’s met many people in Yelm, and he has a growing customer base that he does his best to provide excellent customer service to, welcoming every client.
Taking pride in the fact that he has made it to the point in life that he’s working for nobody but himself, Jose Corona gets to turn around an invest his hard-earned money back into his own business, instead of someone else’s. He gets to see his business grow.
He also gets to invest in family.
In the same way that Raul Corona took Jose Corona under his wing to help his brother start a food truck of his own, Jose Corona is now teaching his younger brother, Lazaro Corona, the ropes of the business as well.
“The goal here is in the future everyone will be independent and run their own business,” Valencia said.
One way that El Taco Amigo 3 stays competitive is by keeping its prices low. While the truck boasts no specials, it could be said that all of its prices are at a reduced rate, Jose Corona said.
“If you look around and compare to other locations, or restaurants, (El Taco Amigo 3 is) already at a lower price,” Valencia added. “You may find taco deals somewhere else at $2. Well, our tacos are $1.75. If you want beef tongue, tripe — those tacos are at $2, when at other locations that’s their special. It’s our daily price.”
Finally, El Taco Amigo 3 is the only full-time food truck to currently be permitted by the city of Yelm, at least to Jose Corona’s knowledge. Tacos Gaby has a food truck, but it is used for special events, he said.
El Taco Amigo 3 is open from 11 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays in the King Cronic parking lot, across the street from the Yelm Safeway.