Popular taco food truck to open restaurant on Main Street this fall


Colin Boyle/Daily Senior Staffer

The future location of Amanecer Breakfast Tacos, 512 Main St. Co-founder Ana Vela said the storefront will open in four to six weeks and is the first step to creating a franchise.

Nikki Baim, Reporter

Amanecer Breakfast Tacos will begin selling tacos in a permanent storefront in four to six weeks and is on its way to building a Chicago area franchise.

Ana Vela, co-founder of Amanecer — a food truck commonly seen around Evanston — said she receives “three to five phone calls a day asking if the store is open yet.” Starting this fall, the prototype location will be open daily starting at 7 a.m. to satisfy early morning taco cravings. The storefront, 512 Main St., is near CTA and Metra train stops.

“Our main customers for the retail space is mostly commuters in that area,” Vela said. “There’s also several schools around there so people that are on their way to work (or) school (can stop by).”

Although she had no prior food industry experience, Vela used her background in product development and educational publishing to create a profitable business model. For the past two years, she and her husband Mario Vela — director of employer relations for Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management — have been selling breakfast tacos out of a Smart Car.

As part of the taco company’s growth, Ana Vela is also trying to target NU students: She has contacted Sodexo to find ways to bring late night tacos to students on campus and, as the president of Evanston Latinx Business Alliance, has also encouraged student organizations to participate in the alliance’s events.

On Sept. 17, the alliance will host ¡Fiesta! Hispanic Heritage Month Celebration, an outdoor event with food vendors and family-friendly activities. Vela said she hopes to see NU organizations there and serve as a role model for minority students.

“We’re a new group of Latino business owners in Evanston that we’ve gotten together to bring more awareness that there are Latino business owners out here,” Vela said.

Beyond the food truck, Amanecer also sells tacos at Backlot Coffee, 2006 Central St., and Other Brother Coffeebar, 1549 Sherman Ave. To support recovery efforts following Hurricane Harvey, the Velas, who are from Texas, are donating the equivalent of the cost of one taco — $3.75 — for every taco sold at the cafes. All the donations will go to Feeding Texas, a nonprofit organization directing money raised to affected food banks. The effort is separate from Mayor Steve Hagerty’s “Dine and Donate” program, which aims to support nonprofit organizations assisting storm victims in Texas.

“I had some family that had to be rescued by boats and their house got completely flooded,” Ana Vela said. “It’s really hard when you’re so far away from family and friends and you want to be there and help.”

Backlot Coffee co-founder Isaac Bloom said his cafe, along with Other Brother, sells close to 50 tacos each day.

“Evanston loves its local businesses,” Bloom said, “so our community wholeheartedly embraced Amanecer from the very first day.”

Ana Vela has also contributed directly to Evanston’s community, donating tacos to a silent auction at Lincolnwood Elementary School this spring.

Stacey Bingaman, co-chair of the school committee that runs the fundraiser each spring, said the proceeds supported the school’s morning tutoring program. The program allows students who “aren’t getting the support they need at home to come in before school and have some time to do their homework and get a great, healthy breakfast.”

Vela said the new storefront is the start to her “larger vision” of franchising Amanecer tacos in the Chicago area, which will showcase that Latino business owners “can be leaders in the food industry.”

And although Vela faced a setback in opening the storefront after Amanecer’s expected city funding was frozen due to the state budget stalemate, she is undeterred.

She said she hopes to “expand to three or five more of these taco shops in the next five years.”

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