Ángel Cortes started a catering company last year and now he plans to open a food truck in May. A brick-and-mortar is next on the list.

After working in international commerce for 24 years, Ángel Cortes quit his job and moved from Nogales, Arizona, to Tucson. 

"I was tired of that job; it was very stressful. In the summer of '22, I quit and I was looking for another job in Nogales, but it's a small town and there's not a lot of opportunities," he says. "My four kids live in Tucson and I talked to my wife and said, let's start from zero." 

When he made the move, he started looking for a job. He applied to 30-40 places and never heard back. 

"I decided to start my own business," he says.

One year ago, Cortes started Señor Taco, a catering company that serves up carne asada, birria, chicharrones and more of the Mexican food of your dreams. He's since catered 60 events, from college graduations to the opening of local shop Yōlia Botánica. 

Señor Taco serves Mexican food from recipes created by Ángel Cortes and his family.

"I started from zero," he says. "I'm the cook, I'm the server, I'm my own dishwasher, I'm my own marketing, everything. I started from zero but I'm very happy with the results of the first year."

As a kid, Cortes watched his family cook and he grew to fall in love with it, too. He uses recipes passed down from relatives, in addition to ones he's created on his own. Before starting Señor Taco, his friends and family would always ask, "Ángel, are you going to cook for our event?" 

He also watched his father, a businessman, work in a brewery and deliver beer to more than a dozen liquor stores. Cortes followed in those footsteps and got his degree in business.

After taking the plunge and opening his own business last year, Cortes is ready for the next step: a food truck. 

"I have a dream," he says. "I want to have my own restaurant here in Tucson, but the next step is a food truck. I'm going to work on a food truck and save money and look for some place to start my own restaurant with the same recipes."

Since starting a year ago, Señor Taco has catered 60 events. Next up: a food truck.

Cortes is hoping to open the food truck in late May — and you can help.

He's working with Kiva, a platform that offers crowdsourced loans. Community members can contribute to entrepreneurs like Cortes, who will use the $15,000 loan for a deposit on the food truck, obtaining licenses, purchasing equipment, hiring staff and for marketing purposes. He has until April 22 to make the goal and be fully funded.

Cortes decided to use Kiva because his wife Josefina and daughters Maria-Ines and Maria-Jose used the platform for their businesses JC Jewels and Di Luna Candles. Dozens of other Tucson businesses have also used Kiva, including Creative Kind, The Blacktop Grill, Del Cielo Tamales, Viva Performing Arts Center, Just Churros, Arizona Winery Tours and El Antojo Poblano. 

"This kind of opportunity for entrepreneurial people doesn't happen in Mexico," he says. "You don't see this in Mexico and this is a great opportunity for me to start my business."

Cortes plans to park the food truck somewhere in midtown near the University of Arizona campus, in addition to spots on the south side and during community events. He'll still take on catering jobs, too.

The food truck menu will be new, featuring breakfast burritos, quesabirria and chilaquiles, but he'll still serve up favorites from his catering menu. People rave about the chicken tinga, carne asada and al pastor. He also sets up a salsa bar at each of his catering gigs, filled with his homemade salsas.

And when the time is right, he'll open a brick-and-mortar named 2 Marias, after his two daughters. 

"When people, my clients and customers, say they love my food or I see their faces — that's it for me," he says.

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Gloria was born and raised in Tucson and is a 2018 University of Arizona grad. From wildflowers to wildlife, she loves all things Tucson and hopes to share her love of the city with readers ✨