Meet Your Merchant: Truckee’s Taco Station – back for a second time around
October 3, 2011
TRUCKEE, Calif. – Eat it. It’s good, feels natural going down, no synthetics, not greasy or overly processed, just like a taco should be – and cheap, too.
Mike Diaz, dressed in a navy collared shirt, white apron and jeans, knows his tacos, just like the ones he’s serving up today at his newly opened shop, Taco Station.
Diaz shuffles some lettuce into a taco shell, adds fresh guacamole, shredded cheese, sour cream, pico de gallo, carne asada. It’s all part of his family’s recipes, part handed down from his mother, part self-invention, part of his kitchen staff’s own creative twists.
Overall, though, it’s just about good Mexicana.
Taco Station is located in the same building where the Pizza Shack used to be. It’s also the second iteration of Taco Station, since Diaz first began selling tacos in the Truckee downtown from 1994 to 2003.
After a brief stint working for Truckee Fire as a Firefighter Paramedic, Diaz said an accident forced him to retire – the end result is this new venture.
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“People kept telling me I should open a restaurant because they liked the food I cooked and my parents had really good recipes,” he said. “I needed something to do.”
After Diaz retired and committed himself to his business again, he never thought the venture would turn into a full restaurant until he began talking with former Pizza Shack owner Dorothy Waters, who said she wished to retire from the food industry.
And just like that, Diaz decided to move in.
However, deciding to do something and actually doing it are two different things. Diaz said he owes a great amount of credit to his partners and friends Maggie and Kelly Shane for helping with the redesign and remodel of Taco Station.
“If it wasn’t for them, I couldn’t have done it like this,” said Diaz.
Their handy work can be seen in the bright orange paint, the decorative dishes placed on the walls and the efficiently designed Chipotle style quick-in, quick-out, serving counters filled with all varieties of condiments, meats and sauces.
When the restaurant first opened in August, Diaz said he was – and still is overwhelmed – by the response from the community, who came in taco after taco, burrito after burrito, to support his reborn business, favoring his fish tacos and one-pound burritos.
“It’s been huge and it’s been huge every day since,” said Diaz. “We’re doing two times, maybe three times what we thought we’d be doing at first.”
Of his customers, Diaz said 80 percent are returning from his old business, and the rest are new drop-ins combined with a good assortment from the high school across the street. Diaz commends his chefs Anna Rubio, Tila and Rafael Velasco for his business’ ability to supply the heavy demand, as well as the rest of his staff.
“I’m a big stickler on customer service, having a fresh product and staying consistent,” he said. “It’s been a really good positive thing.”