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Mary Hatz and Rodrigo Huerta

Comida Kin

Mary Hatz and Rodrigo Huerta

Gabriel Flores  0:00  

Hello everyone and welcome to the shades of entrepreneurship. This is your host, Mr. Gabriel Flores. Today I have Mary in the Regal. How are we doing today guys? Thank you so much for being on the show. I'm really excited about it. Actually no Mary's aunt somebody actually worked with in the professional world, but we're not going to talk about that. We're going to talk about food today. We're going to talk about go Sina kin but that's not all you guys do. So we're gonna we're gonna first let's introduce the world to marry in Rodrigo, can you guys give them a little background? Who you guys are? And then we'll kind of get into the business.

Rodrigo Huerta  0:37  

Of first it's comida sorry, comida.

Gabriel Flores  0:39  

Not kitchen.

Rodrigo Huerta  0:46  

Yeah, it's Mary hats. I was born and raised in Hillsboro, Oregon. I know I went to my Benton Community College and Oregon State University with a Bachelor of silent science for restaurant food service management. And culinary school is where Rodrigo and I met.

Gabriel Flores  1:04  

Nice. So what's coordinator school?

Mary Hatz  1:09  

The Linn Benton Community College.

Gabriel Flores  1:11  

Okay. And Rodrigo, what about you? Yeah,

Rodrigo Huerta  1:13  

yeah. Yeah, so school just kind of started late for me. But yeah, we met and live in really college. I was born here in Portland, moved around quite a bit up in Washington or back east Pittsburgh for a while and came settled back in Oregon. And that, you know, that's about every six years transitions moving and went to school and was, you know, when I was gardening a lot at some point in my life and was in horticulture program but realizing that studying science at the moment wasn't time wasn't my thing. And the books, they just, they're just too big for me. But I realized that there was. So I found out that this little bit and where I was starting the horticulture, had the culinary program. And so I got into that pretty quickly. And because when I was, you know, at home from school, I was also I was watching what's Food Network and cooking at home and learning learning to cook but also realizing that I could cook. I have background, my my dad was a chef, and we had a family Mexican restaurant. And so I was like, oh, wait a second. This is all familiar to me. And, yeah, it was an easy move to for career path. And you know, that's a two year program. Like Mary and I were in each other's vision the first year, but it was at the end of the first year that we actually met. And then pretty tight the set the second year, throughout the rest of the school.

Mary Hatz  2:54  

And then we got married and she doesn't 11. We moved from Corvallis to Portland in 2009. And worked in Portland restaurants. For too long. Oh, no, around seven years. Yeah. went to Mexico for a few years and then moved or not years, but a few months, traveled around for nine months and then moved to after that. We came back and ended up in Hillsborough at some point. Yeah.

Gabriel Flores  3:28  

So what? Yeah, so why culinary school?

Mary Hatz  3:32  

For me. Um, I was at OSU. My freshman year, it wasn't going very well. I didn't know what to do. I wasn't enjoying it. And I went and talked to my advisor. And she said, Well, you know, we have a, we have a just started a program where you go to culinary school, and then you take a business school from OSU. And so it was a partnership between the community college and OSU. Oh, interesting. And I said, Well, I'll give it a shot because it was the culinary school aspect. And I loved it so much. I was only supposed to I was only required to do one year. I loved it so much. I did it for the both two years. And then I finished at OSU.

Gabriel Flores  4:12  

Nice. So let's let's talk about the transition because you mentioned you both, you know, traveled and then you went from working in Portland restaurants to eventually going to Mexico for a couple months and then coming back and starting this food cart. What What made you decide what kind of gave you that? Okay, we're ready to start our own. We're ready to venture out on our own without doing the restaurant. What was kind of that aha moment for you.

Mary Hatz  4:39  

The abridged version is the pandemic.

Rodrigo Huerta  4:44  

Pandemic was Well, I think the pandemic started the business but I would say first, you know, we worked, we moved to Portland working to get and we got a job together at a hotel restaurant Pretty much. I mean, that was just the chops were you had to that broken our chops real quick it was a hotel, we were doing hundreds of covers in a couple of hours. And, you know, like a Cadillac of Line station, cooking line and two people per station just busting out food and you know, it was fine dining. And so we're touching all sorts of things, mostly seafood for me personally, that we, you know, we're touching things, again, that we touched in culinary school. Because after culinary school, I was like in pubs and co ops and just cooking and just really learning food again, you know, in the real world and, and then we got into the restaurant and learn to the restaurant game and then the real world. But we also realized real quick that I mean, burnout was there, and it was present. And but we do you know, we couldn't take that as our profession. What not professional burnout. Yeah, but Job burnout every you know, I mean, I left after the first nine months, so they for at least a year. And then I kept moving around. But my you know, I wanted to learn as much as I could, I mean, different cuisines, different chefs, different kitchens, different co workers were all the same. The co workers, but then we ended up managing a working together at a after Mexico actually got hired at a taco Ria, while in Mexico. Oh, interesting. I got hired in the last few months as a sous chef, and then started working there. When we got back like two days after traveling for nine months, just started hitting the grind again, and started working getting settled. And I don't remember if Mary joined me there right away or later. But eventually, we ended up working together. And she was we end up working together in this restaurant. And in that we were kind of like, oh, this is too much. Like, it's just the stress and it wasn't ours. And but there's this, you know, the two of us, I was kind of a, I was a chef Mary was kind of a sous chef. And we felt this. We felt this ownership, but it wasn't ours, you know, but we did have this ownership. And it was we did keep it consistent and that way, but everything else beside that was just out of our control and very intense dealing with. So we kind of promised each other never to own a restaurant. We ever we ever get into this situation, we should stay out of it.

Mary Hatz  7:29  

Well, then in 2019, we found ourselves, we bought this food truck, the plan was that we were going to just use it every like during the summer, like once a month to do a festival, you know, as a side gig, just to make some extra cash. But then the pandemic hit. And we I was at a catering company at that time in catering cease to exist. So I had no job. And Rodrigo was transitioning into something else. But then that didn't follow through because pandemic. So we found ourselves unemployed with a truck. We said, well, I guess we'll start cooking.

Rodrigo Huerta  8:11  

Yeah, yeah, we started, I started working on the truck in the winter, just replacing the equipment. And again, the plan was to find a job, and then get on the festival certificate, do that part time and have steady income coming. But yeah, the pandemic had some different plans. And yeah, so we just what can we do, and I've worked in a restaurant in downtown Hillsborough for about a year or so. And I became familiar with the farmers market. And you know, did they had like a market kitchen thing where I when I was a chef at this restaurant, you know, she asked if I'd be willing to do a demonstration and we did a demonstration at the market and thought that was pretty cool and fun. The market itself was as awesome it's good to be a part of be out of the restaurant that everybody walked by during the market because the markets going on and to be in to the market and be like you know we're being a part of it and so we had a number to call when it was time to start the business and called the manager farmers market and easy you know no problem getting in and you know, we had to do go through the trials and again, no problem and yeah, just started figuring out how to do it. Because there was you know, we were it was all pretty on the phone we were scrambling to get sign up on the truck for the first day. We had a paper we had a paper sign with each paper with a letter of call me that can read.

Gabriel Flores  9:48  

So with so many food carts out there, how do you guys differentiate yourself?

Mary Hatz  9:54  

We are strictly seasonal farm to table cuisine. We only buy from local farms for our produce, eggs, grains, grains, not all the grains but as much as we can.

Rodrigo Huerta  10:11  

Corn and beans.

Mary Hatz  10:13  

Because we're, I mean, we're in the heart of agriculture out here surrounded by Southern farms, who are doing really good regenerative organic practices

Rodrigo Huerta  10:26  

and who have had to go to regenerative because, you know, Mary's a kid growing up out here it was all farm.

Gabriel Flores  10:31  

Yeah, it's very true. I grew up in Mount Angel, Oregon. And you know, I farmed the Willamette Valley myself, and so we are in the mecca of really the, when it comes to the fruits and vegetables and most of the vegetables, right, we're kind of in the area. You get the fruit down in Northern California area, but yeah, Willamette Valley has is just ripe with produce. It really is. And so what who are the some of the businesses are some of the organizations farms that you guys currently work with?

Rodrigo Huerta  10:58  

Oh, so list.

Gabriel Flores  11:00  

Let's give him a shout out.

Mary Hatz  11:02  

I'll name off three of them. Perfect. feral hog farm Stonebrook farm. And that's connected with Campo collective and daily on farms. You can do?

Rodrigo Huerta  11:16  

Yeah, we started working on working theory farm. Roots farm, Pruitt, farmer, Cornelius, there's an animal stories Market Garden. Laughing kita Buho.

Mary Hatz  11:30  

Mason Hill, cattle, cattle to the low rasa quality plains great grains. Wow. And the list just keeps growing. It started farm. It started with two or three farmers. And it's just grown.

Gabriel Flores  11:46  

That Yeah, awesome.

Rodrigo Huerta  11:47  

Yeah, this year as a, as we saw business, grow exponentially. Has every year. The we found and we picked up fest festival again, and some bigger larger events this year, again, I was I was kind of concerned about what the farm to be able to produce to be able to have enough vegetables for you know, hundreds of people a day, which, you know, festival, we're going to be doing 1000s 1000 Or two. And I was pretty concerned about sticking I want to stick to we have values and we want to stick to them. Right. And we're, you see that? I mean, we support the local agriculture, local agriculture. And, you know, I wanted to, I want to keep supporting, and especially with this big event for us, because, I mean, the festivals paid off the truck for us in two weekends. Wow. And so you know, we we know, there's a lot of money needed. You know, we invest a lot into going into those boat, we sell a lot. And so we wanted to help out. So I had to I did some more, you know, I was like, just kind of expanded the web a bit more outreach reached out to find more farmers and so that, you know, we could we can do we want to do,

Gabriel Flores  13:07  

yeah, and how So, one thing I want to first I want to kind of make sure the listeners. So folks, I hope you're hearing that if you buy actually a meal from this food cart, you're supporting so many local farmers, because the produce is actually coming directly from these individuals. So that's just one other reason why it's also important to kind of continue to help support our local entrepreneurs, because they also have connections. Now you're talking about, you know, the networking and kind of building out that network. How important has the network been to grow your business?

Mary Hatz  13:40  


Rodrigo Huerta  13:40  

representative is huge. Because people come to us, because they hear from somebody else to the farm. And the craziest thing about it is it's not even, we too have just met so many people in the community, just in relation to and pretty much feeling like we're hugely involved in the community because of relation to is as far as like, well, you know, well, we already know each other and yeah, you know, this there, there's so many, it's a small world, you know, we're in a small town and as it spread out as Hillsborough seems some you really, really what it did, in my eyes kind of centered us more into in our community and font and realizing who our community is. And you know, that like, again, so spread out so many different walks of life in a town but you know, and it's hard to share with all that it's hard to take. It's hard to have all of those experiences from all different ranges. But when you have that community, the support is huge, and it's immense. And you really, really it really helps us stay focused in our values and our goals, our missions and You know, and that's the experience of just being able to eat ourselves as food and work with it and understand it more, has changed our lifestyles. Personally, for me, definitely. I know, Mary, too, has always been a vegetable eater, but I mean, now even more and but, uh, you know, and that, seeing that in our self improvement with, you know, the, these, this stuff and and, and our community, and understanding why they do what they do. Yep, you know, really, really been a good thing for us and, you know, helps us want to share that.

Gabriel Flores  15:44  

I like it. Now, what would you what would you to say has, you know, this is you mentioned, you didn't want to get into the restaurant industry. But now you got into the food card industry, what would you say has been difficult about starting the food cart, business, everything.

Rodrigo Huerta  16:02  

Rest is rest is the first thing that comes to my mind.

Mary Hatz  16:06  

Well, and, you know, one of the first things they teach you in business school is that, when you first started a business, it's, it's a pendulum, it's going to be all worth, it starts, it's all work, gonna be all work because you just have to put everything every ounce of your day into it, to get it up and running. And trying to find that balance. And we're so just reminding ourselves that when we started this, because we didn't want to get into the restaurant because of burnout. But we're working, you know, 70 hours, 80 hours a week, still, but it's for ourselves, it's on our own time. And eventually, as systems get in, put into place and work themselves out, things get smoother. And your were able to find a little bit of time here and there now, for rest, finding places where you can put those boundaries, in practice of like, this one day, a month, I'm not doing anything, and you know, starting small with that to how do you incorporate that balance, and get that pendulum to slowly shift? So it's a little more in the middle point.

Rodrigo Huerta  17:24  

Yeah, and the, it's our own stress to, you know, it's like we create it, yeah, we can, we can get rid of it. If you know if it's too much, that we have that power. And it's very, you know, at being our third year of communication to we've learned and found, you know, we've been able to streamline and fit and we had the grace of the customers to do what we wanted for the first year, year and a half. And then by the end of the second year, we were we had kind of a study menu and a concept that was that we felt we could work with and not. And we're gonna that we found the consistency and the streamline. And, and then with that, you know, the space and the time opens up for our personal lives and in the community and in these extra

Gabriel Flores  18:24  

projects. Well, you know, one of the things you guys were talking talking about with stress, right, you guys were talking about? Have you guys ever since you started this food cart? Have you ever had a moment of self doubt?

Rodrigo Huerta  18:36  

Oh, yeah. Yeah. Many times especially the, you know, the second year, this year, it's there's been no time to do anything to be which is you know, it's great. keeps us busy. But, you know, there's we're looking at you know, talking about what what can keep us up at night sometimes and you know, that the freedom has really washed away a lot of the stress of Oh, I forgot this so and so's gonna be on me about this or you know, the responsibility to somebody else or or blame you know, that kind of thing scenario but it's really the personal things we take on and and whether in our conscious about it, you know that that can keep us safe doing it at night or you know, what of this one of that but you nowadays, I think you know, the the doubt creeps in, but only when chaos is around when there's chaos and there's just the two of us and when you know, because there's just the two of us. Chaos can happen real quick during service when it gets busy because

Mary Hatz  19:57  

you're not ready for it. Yeah,

Rodrigo Huerta  19:58  

if there's There's less preparation which it can happen, sometimes we judge, we might judge an opening differently as far as like, I can wait or I'll try to get this in. And we take those risks to create time for ourselves to you know, and so walking into something like that it's, you get busy and all of a sudden services over and I'm looking at Marian, like, what happened was everything. How was the food you know, we do a lot we do a lot, I have, as far as the preparation to make sure that there's not really, you know, the chance of screwing the food and how people see our food with with flavor and texture. It's hard to screw that up. And we try to set that up, where it's just, it's gonna be, it's gonna be a weight, or, you know, time and, and whether they really enjoy it or not, that is something to worry about. But when I can't remember what I, you know, I, the first couple of years, it was so little, so slow, so much slower, that I remember, remembering every dish I put out, some of these other days, when you I can't remember these dishes, I kind of get a little anxiety about what how food was, and why. Because, you know, just it's been a shift of remembering everything I've touched to not remembering things I've touched. And so,

Mary Hatz  21:29  

you know, getting our menus, streamlined has helped a lot too, because we, at first, we were changing our menu a lot. I mean, because we are seasonal, some one week or farmer will have something and the next week you won't. And so we would make whole new dishes around those around these things. But as time went on, really, this is too much. You can keep track of everything. And so there was don't a lot of doubt. But then once we realized that, no, we just need to do you know, we can take we started with a menu that was 12 items big and we just slowly chipped away and said, Nope, it's too much. Nope, it's too much until we have four items on our menu, because that's what the two of us can handle. Yeah. And now it's tacos, tamale, sandwich soup, salad, cornbread. And within those concepts, we change what's in them?

Gabriel Flores  22:22  

Gotcha, gotcha. Nice. Now one of the things you mentioned, when you started the the food cart, or the food kind of going around and doing the different farmers markets, you were able to pay off the truck in two weeks. So how did you guys actually finance the finance company beforehand? It's all grassroots, you got to venture capital, you have taken the loans out? Or did you just like let's just let's just roll up the sleeves and do it. How'd you guys finance this?

Mary Hatz  22:47  

Well, and when we first were offered the food truck, it was with these large festivals. So we did Pride festival and see on all the Portland bike race.

Gabriel Flores  22:59  

Yeah, those are huge festivals.

Mary Hatz  23:02  

Our very first experience in the food truck was

Gabriel Flores  23:08  

swimming with the sharks pretty quickly.

Mary Hatz  23:11  

That gross does $18,000 Wow, that's incredible. I mean, we've never opened the truck before. So we, between that and the SDP we were able to pay it off. And then for the first half of it, we had our we took our personal savings and investment, personal money, and then the other half for half of it. And then the other half, we paid off with the two festivals.

Rodrigo Huerta  23:36  

I want to quickly do one another shout out the crate catering where Mary worked and I worked and who we bought the truck from, you know, they really set us up for success. And, you know, he, they wanted to get rid of the truck. They didn't, they had more business and kind of just wanted to stick to their guns and push the truck thing aside, but they really lined us up with logistics and made, you know really helped us be successful. In that, and it for us it was like, it's easy to understand. Yeah. And I didn't you know, it's it's really going to happen. We'll have like 40 or 80 people standing in line and we're supposed to be serving them the whole time all at once.

Gabriel Flores  24:22  

You know one of the things you guys actually because I'm so let's I'm not a food person, right? I love food, but I've never like cooked in nothing like that. Let's go through that process. What what do you really what is the preparation? You mentioned the preparation process? What are some of the things that people in the food industry that may be us is the consumer don't really think about that you have to think about what are some of those preparation things that you have to go through that we don't think about as a consumer.

Mary Hatz  24:49  

First we have to make a menu. Then we have to look at our farms and see what produce is available and then we put our order together. So basically there's a lot Have office work, air quotes office work that goes into getting ready before we even touch the food. So then once we put our orders in, then we have to go drive around and pick up all of our produce. So we probably spend about three hours a week, if not more driving to the different farms, because with the local farmers, there's no delivery service like there is from large food service. Like an FSA or Cisco, right, right. So we spend a lot of time

Rodrigo Huerta  25:32  

there is, depending on where you live, and they do delivery to Portland, and they can't come around here, but they all don't, because not all the farms we buy from service the restaurants,

Mary Hatz  25:43  

right, so we pick up and then we have to clean every vegetable because the farmers they'll do their it's called a field wash, but it's just to get like the big clumps of basic dirt. Yeah, so then we have to wash the vegetables and then we have to prep the vegetables, clean them, you know, chop them, cook them before they even get into the dish that they're going to be.

Rodrigo Huerta  26:14  

Wow. And then that menu, you know, with when you're thinking about vegetarian food, you know, because we didn't want to stick to

Mary Hatz  26:23  

we started out vegetarian. Yeah.

Rodrigo Huerta  26:26  

We, you know, the meat, we just a lot of personal values and you know, we see the meat industries and our opinions around that but so developing menu with these vegetables, you know, we do have to we have to think about nutrition. Yeah, how is it? Okay, this is good. Is this gonna be satiating? Or even satiate the customer with this? Like how are we going to work this in and

Mary Hatz  26:57  

is it gonna get them protein? Are they gonna get enough nutrients

Rodrigo Huerta  27:01  

to not have protein this meal or whatever?

Gabriel Flores  27:05  

Man? didn't? I didn't see those. I would never have thought about that stuff.

Rodrigo Huerta  27:09  

Yeah, I mean, like so like a lot of the vegan things you know, when we're talking about vegan we're like well cheese's really replace a lot. But you know, we're like oh nuts and seeds and and you know, in Mexican food and researching more, doing more research and getting into pre Hispanic foods. Yeah, pizza, sesame seeds. You got these ancient grains and all you've got them is the corn and the beans and so like developing a vegan Mexican menu was really easy to eat seasonally season. Tough was is the challenge and so that took work and that took confidence in doing that stuff and but we were that we had to stop playing around with the special that special. really find that rhythm and stick to Okay, well I we are going to do tacos. We are going to have tacos all time. So what can we do to make you know what, what can we work with to have a feeling satiating taco bit isn't full of just trying to get this and or? Or carne asada is what you know, we love but, you know, how can we how can we replicate some of that stuff? And and then, you know, trends, you start following trends and you're like, Well, can we replace that video with some potatoes and cheese?

Gabriel Flores  28:53  

Yeah. Yeah. And, you know, you're one thing you're also doing is kind of keeping our community healthy as well. Because one thing I don't think people understand you were mentioning, it was really easy to create a vegan menu with the Latino the Mexican culture in their food. Because historically, Latinos, you know, Mexican, we, we kind of really focused on eating our agriculture, right? We, we filled in the lands and we ate what we what we worked with. And that's why you actually see, you know, diabetes at such a high rate in the Native American population and the Hispanic population, the African American population is because historically, our bodies were not used to this process food that the McDonald's and Taco Bell is that we're now consuming. And so when we do consume those at a rapid rate, and especially at when you're going to Taco Bell, and you see a sign that literally says sodium warning on it, you know, then you're still consuming that meal that is really going to have some effects on your body as well. And so what you guys are really doing is beyond just having a seat help you're really actually creating a healthy community. So I really do applaud you that not only that, but working with, you know, other local farmers is such a such an amazing idea and seeing it continue to grow is really been really, really unique. Now, is this your first this is both of your first businesses?

Rodrigo Huerta  30:16  

Yeah, yes, yes. And to reply to, you know, thank you for seeing that it took us a while to it's, it's hard to tell people, you know, you don't want to tell people that they're eating wrong, you don't want to say, you know, like, you should eat this not that. And leading by example, is kind of just the way to do it. That's how we've changed, we've started eating it, you know, we're very fortunate to do that. So, we, we've seen that and felt the pressure to, personally, to be able to share it, but also the pressure to try to help with bringing awareness to that. And we've been able to create some programs. Right now. It's only our second month, but we have this called skincare program, where we're just, you know, kind of crowdfunding with our customers, they've been very generous when we ask for things, because we do you know, we do a free meal prep free breakfast on Mondays, serving the community here, near our house, where we operate the food truck. But we wanted to be more active involved. And instead of just that, that Monday, we want people to be able to come to the truck and

Mary Hatz  31:47  

more accessible to everybody. Yeah, because our price point is kind of high, because we are local farm. Yeah. So we, we started this skincare fund, where we're we're asked, it's basically a Pay It Forward program, where it's a donation base from our customers. And then we take those donations, we turn them into gift cards, and then we partner with local organizations in the community who work with underserved or challenged folks who are Hispanic, Hispanic community. So we've the last, our first month, we did a lady who helps.

Rodrigo Huerta  32:32  

So beautiful dream, they go out and help people with disabilities integrate into life, and they help build their personal strengths and get them to be able to live a regular normal life without all the assistance and, but with assistance, but also be comfortable, and give him pride and all that,

Gabriel Flores  32:57  

wow, we're gonna we're gonna connect more about this offline, we're gonna get worse, we'll talk more about the we'll definitely get into the nonprofit world offline, I think being up might be able to do some collaborative work on that as well. Now, from the business perspective, you know, you mentioned this as your first business what has been difficult?

Rodrigo Huerta  33:15  

Oh, honestly, being in the being in the capitalist world. That is our, our biggest, our biggest challenge because we, you know, we have strong feelings about accessible food. And so that's, that's kind of where where that was leading to is like, our, who we're supporting now is, but so as a business. The challenges of being so small, it hasn't been crazy challenging with, you know, we have finding a tax person, we've been able to keep our stuff in check. And being small, it's easy to it's easy to just keep track of all that it takes time and work and I'm not going to I guess I'm not going to marry does most of that. So I'm not gonna say it's easy to me. Yeah. Oh, my goodness. Like there's a little bit of it, you know, in the beginning, but

Mary Hatz  34:22  

I'd say just do it having to do everything ourselves because we don't have the budget to hire an accountant or hire for delivery or get deliveries. You know, we have to do every single thing ourselves. I think that's just, you know, that playing into time management like

Rodrigo Huerta  34:43  

so we and we, with our being in our community, it's very easy to not feel like a capitalist in a way we have so much. Our community helps us in so many different ways of just offering I'll try to make each other's lives easier, working together with each other, and having our little, you know, having our LLC above us. But underneath, we're all just in the weaving, weaving in or in between each other and with each other. We're community.

Gabriel Flores  35:21  

What what has been easy? It? Has there been anything anything?

Rodrigo Huerta  35:25  

Oh, just the everyday just, you know, when we keep working and doing what we do, it just unfolds, that's been the easy

Mary Hatz  35:40  

writing it unfold.

Rodrigo Huerta  35:41  

Yeah. The easy part has been not not worrying about what else hasn't been that person where it's been funny how things have come to us. Just the sticking to our values is been easy. It is It literally makes our choices. You know, we choose on what we buy, or don't buy through that, or what we do or don't do through that. And with that, you know, it's been the biggest creative kind of a magnet Noy for us.

Mary Hatz  36:16  

Yeah. Because we don't have to spend a lot of time worrying about Oh, should I or shouldn't I? So if you just check in with your values? Is this in line with what I believe? No, then okay. I don't need to, I don't need to spend any more of my time thinking about it.

Gabriel Flores  36:30  

Man, that is such a great point. In fact, you know, Rodrigo, you mentioned, things are starting to come to you, I believe, you know, as you go throughout life, and you give eventually, people start give back, right, and you kind of noticed those people. And I feel like that's the same way with this podcast, just going out and helping with communities, the opportunities that have been coming my way. And the collaborations like just today, right, I'm actually really excited to talk about after this a little bit more about what you guys doing from a nonprofit perspective, because I think we can have a real good impact on the community if we can collaborate as well. And I think already you guys are having a huge impact, you know, even with without a collaboration, and so how do we continue to grow right together as a community, one thing I'm always constantly saying is, we're a global community of entrepreneurs, right? Because we're all interconnected in some way, shape, or form. Because what's happening out in another country is also going to affect what's happened in our country as well. And so just being mindful of that, some, I'm really excited. Now, I'm going to ask this question to each one of you individually. So first, Mary, I'm gonna start with you. What motivates you

Mary Hatz  37:34  

I think the extra curricular projects that we're working on is what motivates me to continue with the business because it's through the business that I can do these extra projects, and not just our Monday meals, and not just our kin care fund, but we're working on other you know, starting to get into food policy and with, with the, with the community and, and hopefully eventually with the city and getting some food policy put into place and really shaping the future of food, our food economy here in Oregon.

Gabriel Flores  38:20  

That's amazing. Mark, same question. What motivates you

Rodrigo Huerta  38:27  

change I think we can get so stuck in our lives and you know, what, with what we feel comfortable with, right? But to being a third year, you know, like, yes, the business growing and more opportunities coming our way is motivating. But it can be exhausting. Yeah, but the thing about that is that we've seen change, we know that what's happening is gonna change, it's not gonna and if it and then also looking back to seeing, you know, just what the pandemic has created with the food systems that we have not even think we're systems like, we just, oh, it's food. We don't think about this stuff. Yeah, we don't point everybody about where they're where that bacon is coming from nobody's or how that pig you know, lived. The and so getting a little insight into that stuff and seeing Oh, this thing is changing and, you know, being important and then starting a business in Portland or, you know, Oregon and Portland being a mecca of a Farm to Fork back in the 90s if not the 80s the you know, that started but what happened to where did you know where to the those restaurants, they're still they still aren't here, they still are there, and you just don't see as many doing a full like, because it's a lot of work to there, the farms that we buy from are not a part of these systems that that are in place to feed, to create convenience, and feeding and so change. And knowing that there, there needs to be change in the way we eat, the way we the way we spend our money, the way we buy, where we purchase, who we spend our money with, and, you know, supporting, knowing that, wait a second, I don't have to I can, I can find a way to support my local economy. That kind of stuff, you know, that's motivating for me, because it when you think that you have to, when you when you think about change, you want to change the world. Like that's the first time this this could change the world. What a great idea. But that's nearly impossible. I mean, that's thinking hugely, but what you would bring it back down to Senator and bring it back to where you're at. Like that change is possible. You just start small, it's okay. We, we all were crawling before we were walking. Yep. And so that is, you know, knowing that change is always gonna happen, but being able to notice, see, and be aware of that, and have the initiative to do it and, and a community that has embraced us, like we feel very hugged. Here in a big hug of our community. Love, it has been a huge motivating piece for us. And that's new for us. Yeah,

Gabriel Flores  41:58  

that's good. It has been now what would you guys say as small business owners keeps you guys up at night?

Mary Hatz  42:08  

My stomach eating too late.

Rodrigo Huerta  42:13  

Our not eating at the right time,

Gabriel Flores  42:16  

just those hours on?

Rodrigo Huerta  42:18  

You know, it's

Mary Hatz  42:19  

it's not really the stress because there's, unfortunately, us to blame if something goes wrong. And you know, it all will get done at some point, and if not, then well. You just have to say what, what needs to change that to make it doable, right. So if we're not getting done, what needs to get done, then the system needs to change. So there's, there's not really anything that other than our bad eating habits.

Rodrigo Huerta  42:51  

We've thought about, you know, we've thought about that, because it was I mean, not to just joke around either. Like that's very fortunate for us because we were really like it's the business right now this year, mostly to like, you know, first second year, I could tell you that we probably went to bed just wondering, you know, those doubts those personal those self doubts what's going to happen this year waking up knowing we're, we gotta get to the truck where you have work, we have worked through the summer. Those aren't right, you know, cooking and making money isn't aren't the anxieties necessarily? versus you know, just being able to take care of ourselves and whether we took care of ourselves well enough to rest yeah

Gabriel Flores  43:40  

that's a good point. And you know, folks that listening if you're having trouble sleeping at night and you're eating at like nine or eight o'clock at night that's probably why and I know I'm pointing out myself when I'm talking to my you know, talking to people listening because I know I know I do now how do you guys continue to market yourself and grow your brand? How do you guys continue to tell people what you're doing?

Mary Hatz  44:04  

That is Rodrigo.

Rodrigo Huerta  44:08  

You know, the social media with the Instagram is the only marketing tool we have no word of mouth, community Veritas, doing what we do. It's, again just sticking to what feels right. Because you know, this this when we took a small road trip this winter about four or five weeks and had no idea what someone's gonna look like. And then you know, coming back home, the anxieties getting what are we gonna, what's gonna happen? How do we how are we going to start booking and we got to call them, this person, that person, we've got to start reaching out to the wineries we got to do this that no matter of two weeks, three weeks when we got home, this we're booked out till September. Let me just as far as much work week due. And then, you know, working with people trying to figure out other things, all of a sudden, it just stops like we can't do anymore. Like, we're hoping to have an April, that was gonna be a little more time to do to find work. But as May through September, it filled up. People calling in April just filled up as well. And you know, April was our largest selling month since we've been open. Oh, wow. And it's just, it's only growing right now. And so yeah, the things just started happening in the market. Yeah. So. So now, like the marketing and the growth, it's, it's like, I just, I don't worry too much about it, which is really helps me at night to don't get, you know, because there's all these other things I wanted to do. Like, there's so much you can do in marketing. And I reached out also, again, community and people we've worked with before. We've worked with chefs, and they have their own restaurants now and then working with cooks that have their own restaurants now and calling the meeting like, because I like their marketing their house. How's this work for you? Getting advice? And, and, you know, advice. It's raining if you can't hear?

Gabriel Flores  46:33  

Oh, yeah, it was pouring over here rather, don't worry. Yeah.

Rodrigo Huerta  46:36  

The so you know, I talked to a small restaurant that who's who we've worked with, and they were very gracious and just sending me their marketing person, nice person to call. Nice talk to him for and we had 1520 minute conversation and, and she was very direct with me. Very nice, very direct. And I was like, you know, I was like, This is awesome. Yeah. Just it really just helped me lay out a system to reach a customer. Yeah. Without it's just, I didn't know which boxes to check, you know. And so, the whole marketing thing has also been organic and building as we go, and, you know, pictures, honestly, it gets me in trouble sometimes with my partner here.

Mary Hatz  47:34  

What do you do? Instagram posting? Really good. I help,

Gabriel Flores  47:40  

too. Great. So give the listeners at home some advice that maybe maybe somebody listening is interested in possibly get into the food industry? What advice would you have for them?

Mary Hatz  47:52  

Have enough savings to not make any money? Your first impossibly second year? Okay. For me, it's whether or not that's through financing or whatnot. But you need to have like, when you're looking for capital, if you're going that direction, you need to include your finances for personal living, because you're not going to be making any money your first year. Yeah,

Rodrigo Huerta  48:17  

yeah. And, you know, go slow. That's has been our saving grace is slowing down. Yeah. Stopping sometimes. Yeah, really, it's because things move faster. Our brains move faster than we do. Things around us move faster than we do. Yeah. You know, so, really being centered and sticking to what you really want. Yeah, but, but, you know, don't give up. Don't give up. Don't try not to feel the pressure. You know, don't yeah, don't try to please. Too many people. without, without your own. Without your own motives and

Mary Hatz  49:03  

initiatives. And the food cart community is is really embracing and really amazing. And we are Commissary Kitchen, we're in about seven other food trucks and our neighbors and the other food trucks that we meet out at events and whatnot. We tell them how long we've been doing it they, you know, is our first year, second year, whatever, every time they just say you're doing a great job. Keep up the work. Don't give up. The first year is the hardest.

Gabriel Flores  49:31  

I love it. I love the community aspect of that. Yeah.

Rodrigo Huerta  49:35  

Yeah, even you know we were with a bunch of taco trucks in our commissary and everybody's just so they're we're all here to help each other and encouraging. Very encouraging and love it hopefully. Yeah.

Gabriel Flores  49:50  

So so for the listeners at home that that want to continue to encourage and support what you guys are doing. Where do they find you how Rodrigo How did they find And you're amazing, you know, advertising on social media. How do they how do they how do they keep up to date with where the food court is going to be?

Rodrigo Huerta  50:09  

Yeah, follow us on Instagram at communication. That's Colm Ida K I N. Straightforward there and you know, our Facebook is linked to the Instagram but Facebook we don't really interact with too much. We have our website We have our farmers up there we through the website it takes you to Instagram to because we are mobile takes you to Instagram to find us and weekly on Instagram, I'll tell you where we're at. Or do you know find us on the day? During the day of at least in the stories we'll be able to find something perfect on. I'm not always the quickest on it. But yep, that's where we're at. And, you know, it's one of those things where the pressure is off a little bit because, you know, we have so much going on, but we do still need to. We do still mark it because not most of our events are not private wares, you know. But we do like people that come out to the farms. You know, one of our regular places is that sparrowhawk farm, near Glencoe High School, we do lunch out there on Fridays and beautiful place and, you know, they've been nothing but embrace us and we go out there weekly. They're, they're working on, they've even working on the environment around us to create a better place for people to sit there sit out and eat on the farm and love it, to interact with the farmers watch them harvest sell vegetables, to the CSA members, they have a farm store there, where they also support other local businesses through their farm store. And that's great. There's a whole full circle with with with them, you know, spit grain from the brewery to the chickens and you know, we give our compost back to them to feed chickens in their pig and pigs and you know, so it's fun to be a part of you know, see those full circle things happening and but yeah, social media Instagram is they have Thursday, Fridays and Saturdays. That's when we're open. That's kind of just call it at that and there's a Friday and Saturday start looking for us and perfect to be able to find where we're at.

Gabriel Flores  52:31  

Nice, thank you, Mary and ready to go man, this was such a great conversation, a lot of great information. Very excited for what you guys are doing and the way you guys are impacting the community as a whole. I think it's really a phenomenal and the way you're also supporting a lot of these local farmers. It's just a great, great thing. Now for those folks at home again, you please find them on social media. You can also subscribe to the shades of entrepreneurship newsletter on the shades of or you can follow us on the shades of E at LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Have a great night.

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