[How did you start Taquería Las Flores?]
Out of impulse, to be honest. My dad lives around Sawyer, and this was a spot where restaurants lasted only briefly. Growing up, I always wanted to live near the family business. I'm not a commuter; I hate it. I prefer to avoid traveling.
When I was young, I would tell my dad we should move closer to his restaurant (Taquería El Asadero). The second this space was for rent, I thought, "Let's do it, call, and figure it out."
I started on August 5, 2019, at 29 years old, and officially opened on October 22, 2019, a few months before the pandemic. Like my dad, he opened his restaurant at the same age.
Starting out, I got a lot of help from my family, my best friend Natalie, and my boyfriend, Karol. I'm fortunate. I'm the wealthiest person in the world with these people in my life. A millionaire but not with money.
We used to live in Bucktown before my little brother Efrain was born. We moved to Albany Park in 1997. I went to Roosevelt High School and used to go to that library (on Foster and Kimball), so I'm very aware of my neighborhood. Still, I didn't have a connection to the community as I do now. Most of my childhood was spent in North Center/Lincoln Square, where my dad's restaurant is. I didn't go to school at Hibbard; I went to Thomas J. Waters. It was much easier for my parents to drop me off, go to work, pick me up, and go home. Once I opened Las Flores, I got to know my neighbors. The restaurant brought me closer to the neighborhood.
Once I opened this restaurant, I got to know my neighbors for real. I feel like the restaurant brought me closer to the neighborhood than I was when I was younger.
[What is something that you appreciate about this neighborhood?]
The support, number one – especially with the whole situation with the building [that may require her to move]. When I think about it, . . . It makes me want to cry right now . . . the fact that people really like my restaurant!
There's something about this area – a sleepy neighborhood that seems very tight-knit around here. Everybody knows each other.
[What is one of your current favorite items on your menu?]
The Mojo shrimp taco right now. I've always been weird about introducing seafood because I try to be careful regarding allergies or cross-contamination. Seafood intimidates me but people love the fish tacos we served for the Lenten season, and I get asked for it throughout the year. But I wanted to bring something else. So I decided to face my fear and put shrimp on the menu. So that's my favorite thing at the moment.
I also like the crunchy tacos, too. That was my way of doing something better than Taco Bell. I had Taco Bell for the first time when I was 27. It's OK when you have the munchies, but I felt like I could make something better than that.
[What do you want your customers to know?]
First and foremost, I want them to know that when you support a small business, you're most likely supporting multiple family businesses. For example, my dad's food distributors (meat supply, produce, tortillas, etc.) have their children managing the companies now. Their fathers worked closely with my dad, and now the next generation continues their legacies with me.
Secondly, not many folks know this, but I'm neurodivergent! This explains why I can come off as a wee odd to folks. I feel it's important to mention that to encourage other neurodivergent minds that they are capable of significant achievements, not only despite but because of our disabilities. If I can do it, so can you.
Lastly, I want my customers to know I am eternally grateful for the support, it’s what keeps me going even on the toughest days.
Also, I enjoy doing community-related events here. I've always wanted to do communal events at my dad's place, but he'd say, 'When you open your restaurant, you can do whatever you want." So now, I do, and thus Hora de Cuento [Spanish Story Hour] began. I want to create the same space I had growing up at Asadero but better and more family-oriented.
If not for the pandemic, I would have had more community projects or activities in the restaurant, like paint 'n' sips and such.