An Interview With Mario Melendez of Rasta Taco
As we wait to see what happens with the still-in-development Rasta Taco at The Camp, we went to the source, owner Mario Melendez, to get the scoop him what's really going on. While we were at it, we asked him a few other questions, specifically about what he thinks about this food truck fervor.
OC Weekly: For those, like me, who've never had a Rasta Taco, tell us what makes the taco "rasta".
Mario Melendez: For starters, lets not forget that a big chunk of Mexico shares the same waters as Jamaica! Rasta is a "feeling". Yes it is also a religion, but speak to any Rastafarian or read any book regarding "Rasta" and they all share a common thread; it is a feeling. Now, from a culinary position, it is our take on a fusion of Caribbean spices and authentic Mexican food. Add a little reggae, and you've just hired us! A new twist on a centuries old diet.
OC Weekly: So what's the deal with your first store at The Camp?
Mario Melendez: It was set up as a franchise-type of deal. It was not Rasta Taco Inc. deal. Rather, an individual who believed in our product and direction. At the end of the day, there were concerns over the name "Rasta" Taco." Certain decision-making individuals believed it would attract the "wrong" sort of clients.
OC Weekly: Are there any plans for other franchises?
Mario Melendez: Yes. Big time. Just a MINOR delay. We are currently working with a large company, with plans to roll Rasta Taco restaurants out. The Camp, although an unfortunate deal, was a delay. Nothing more.
OC Weekly: With the food truck craze, do you have any plans to take Rasta Taco mobile?
Mario Melendez: We are looking into it. But, any company has to be careful "jumping into" a "craze." We have a solid business plan that seems to working. While doing the Style Lounge at the Golden Globes, we had the ability to move our carts into the building, versus, having to have the invited celebrities having to wait in the street for food. We have customers who have hired our services 5 times over the past 3.5 years. That's speaks volumes about our food, service and reliability.
OC Weekly: What do you think of this food truck trend? And have you been to any of these new concepts?
Mario Melendez: I think my interest lies in, "Lets see how this plays out." In other words, it seems like many, many people are getting into this business. Yet, you can't park on any and every corner. Bottom line is, any company who wants to crack this and make some money MUST have super marketing skills and a "one of a kind" addictive product.
I'm always into exploring new opportunities. Right now, we have expanded our menu, expanded our catering kitchen, and have made the business completely family owned and operated. From cooks, to lawyers. It's all in the family. Also, another exciting item that launches in March is our deliveries for large parties, but don't have the room for our carts. For example; a corporate meeting on the second floor for 65 people. Done. Rasta Taco style!
Get the Food & Drink Newsletter
Our weekly guide to Orange County dining includes food news and reviews, as well as dining events and interviews with chefs and restaurant owners.