Little Enterprise Spotlight: With Taylor’s Tacos, West Coastline Road Food items Finds West Facet Community

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Taylor Mason, still left, and Maya Mason run Taylor’s Tacos, an alum of the Compact Business enterprise Development Program.

Immediately after transferring back house to Chicago from California, Taylor Mason missed Los Angeles’ ubiquitous road tacos. She’d get an occasional whiff many thanks to a dude who sporadically set up a grill on a Wicker Park sidewalk, drawing a line of hungry patrons that stretched down the block.

“It was very hot of the plancha, ideal into your plate,” Mason claimed. “You could see the meals being cooked proper in front of you.”

That craving inspired Mason to start Taylor’s Tacos, which she operates with her wife, Maya Mason. The business enterprise, an alum of the Polsky Center’s Smaller Business enterprise Growth Application, consists of a catering support, taco truck, and celebration house. But it also has a broader mission.

Born and elevated on Chicago’s West Aspect, Mason understands what it signifies to reside in a foods desert. As she grows her taco small business, she hopes to open her possess catering and retail house in the group she even now phone calls home.

“I’ve got to make the West Side good once more,” mentioned Mason, who lives in Douglas Park.

Mason would not have predicted a vocation in tacos when she initial moved to California, on a complete basketball scholarship to Pepperdine College. She examined broadcast journalism at the Malibu school and aspired to operate powering the camera in Hollywood.

But as her higher education graduation neared in 2010, her mom endured back again-to-again mind aneurysms (she’s Okay now). At her father’s request, Mason moved house to Chicago, passing up a position she experienced lined up on the West Coast.

“That was the toughest but easiest conclusion I at any time had to make,” Mason explained.

She labored at her family’s organization, NBU Athletics, an firm that teaches basketball fundamentals to youth, as director of functions for five several years. But she wasn’t a enthusiast of the household company dynamics and needed anything unique.

As she worked odd employment – a fitness center instructor, a basketball mentor — Mason stored likely back again to her longtime love of bringing people alongside one another.

She hosted a bash and manufactured tacos, impressed by the Wicker Park road seller. They have been a hit, and over the up coming two a long time she worked on perfecting her recipe for “street tacos with a complete lot of soul.”

When she met Maya in 2016, the enthusiasm venture turned an informal organization. Maya, at the time doing the job as a restaurant server, had grown up in a food items-centered household – both of those of her dad and mom experienced attended French culinary faculty and her mom was an heirloom gardener – and was enthusiastic about the potential.

In 2018, the two Taylor and Maya Mason quit their work opportunities to emphasis total time on building Taylor’s Tacos.

The small business specialised in pop-up catering — exhibiting up at occasions and producing tacos live, some of them unique twists on tradition such as salmon, asparagus, and portobello mushroom tacos. When the pandemic strike and events were cancelled, the Masons begun giving taco platters, nacho bars, and well prepared lunches.

They also opened an party room, known as Taylored, at 2451 S. Oakley Ave., getting learned through catering that function areas are in large demand from customers. The ethereal 1,400-square-foot storefront, designed to exude “a bit of Los Angeles,” sells tacos to the community on Thursdays from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.

“That additional a whole new facet of our business enterprise that we wouldn’t have with out the pandemic,” Mason explained. “We went from making $7,000 a 12 months to above $400,000 in gross sales.”

Mason also started off a nonprofit, Tacos Build Group, that brings folks into the area for a taco expertise they could possibly not in any other case have the chance to enjoy. She hosted a Tacos and Tea application with Challenge sWish and at this time has a partnership with the Above and Past foods pantry.

Mason connected with the Polsky Heart just after listening to about it by means of the Community Entrepreneurship Lab, a 9-thirty day period virtual accelerator for Chicago-space business people. She participated in the drop 2021 cohort of the Polsky Center’s Compact Organization Advancement Plan, where by a crew of UChicago college students assisted her devise a marketing and advertising approach.

“The most practical portion was just possessing a workforce that you can bounce ideas off of,” Mason explained. “To have people today from different walks of life that can give you feed-back, actually manufactured me realize how important it is to get distinct varieties of people on our staff.”

Now a crew of 6 and operating out of a kitchen area in The Hatchery, a foods incubator in East Garfield Park, Taylor’s Tacos is trying to get greater digs as it gets a lot more orders than it can take care of. The Masons are exploring genuine estate on the West Aspect in hopes opening their own catering kitchen with constrained hours for the community to obtain tacos, and down the road they envision bottling their sauce, earning their very own tortillas, and franchising the company.

Via her adventures in entrepreneurship, Taylor Mason has learned that the important to seeing those aspirations via is dry but indispensable: stick to the principles and get all of the essential paperwork, licensing, and coverage in spot.

“Be geared up so that when option knocks, you are all set,” she reported.

Write-up by Alexia Elejalde-Ruiz, affiliate director of media relations and external communications at the Polsky Heart. A longtime journalist, Alexia most not long ago was a business reporter with the Chicago Tribune. Get to Alexia by way of e mail or on Twitter @alexiaer.