Chef brings street tacos back to Tooele
by Tim Gillie
Jun 17, 2008 | 1544 views | 0 0 comments | 22 22 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Street tacos have made a return to Tooele.

Juan Carlos Romero opened a taco trailer, El Brasero, in the parking lot of GSI Pawn Shop at 324 N. Main St., three weeks ago.

"Business is great and growing stronger everyday," Romero said.

Romero originally tried to open a taco stand in Wendover earlier this year but did not find a large enough market there to support the business. He then approached Tooele City in April for a conditional use permit for his taco stand. Originally he was planning to open up just north of City Hall in front of Ekonomy Cleaners. However, the property owners, who live out of state, would not give permission for the stand to be located on their property.

Officials at the city recorder's office helped Romero relocate to the GSI Pawn Shop, where a previous taco cart owner had gained the approval of the property owner and the city but never opened up.

While Romero hopes his stand will continue as a permanent part of Tooele, because it is not in a permanent building, it is classified as an "itinerant business" by the city. That means it is required to have an agreement with a nearby business for restroom use by patrons and employees. The stand's employees must also wear the same bright blue badge sported by licensed door-to-door sales people.

The taco stand is not only permitted by the city, it is also required to have a permit from the Tooele County Health Department.

Romero, a native of Mexico City, has lived in the United States for 24 years now. He lived in Los Angeles for about six months when he first came to the United States, and then moved to Wendover. Romero started working as a dishwasher in a casino, then as a bus boy. Today he works as a sous chef at the Montego Bay in Wendover.

Keeping his taco stand in Tooele open despite working a full-time job in Wendover requires Romero to rely on family members. He employs his two cousins Miguel Manguia and Jose Guadalupe, both Tooele residents, to work in the stand.

The stand is open Monday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. The menu includes tacos for $1 and quesadillas, burritos and tortas for $4. Cold drinks are also available.

The meat choices on the entrees include carne asada or beef, carne al pastor which is a spicy pork, carnitas which is a milder pork, and tinga de pollo or chicken, as well as authentic Mexican chorizo, cabeza or roasted meat from the cow's head, and lengua or slow-cooked tender tongue meat. Sauces are available in hot or mild.

"The food is great," said Carmie Zaccardi of Tooele, who prefers the pork tacos. "I stop here every time I drive by."

The city has not seen a proliferation of itinerant businesses in recent years, said Lisa Carpenter, assistant city recorder. However, as summer approaches she has seen some of the usual temporary itinerant businesses apply for licenses.

Currently two ice cream trucks, one from Tooele Valley Ice Cream and one from Dad's Ice Cream out of West Jordan, have received itinerant licenses for 2008. Carpenter anticipates Harward Farms, which has been selling produce out of a parking lot on the north end of town the last few years, will probably return again this year as well.

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