A family-owned Mexican food truck is slated to help turn a Port Huron corner into a new dining spot by Memorial Day weekend as part of the property owner’s vision to attract downtown visitors.
Scott Beedon, who owns the site at Water and Fourth streets under the Beedon Group LLC, is still setting up the space and looking for a tenant for a temporary pod structure on the property. The structure itself got the zoning board of appeals OK earlier this month with site plans for a future conceptual food truck court attached.
So far, though, Beedon said he’s excited to be working with one food truck to start.
And the team at the helm of that operation — the Flying Taco — crosses a couple of generations.
“My dad and I, our first paying job was Boat Night ’96. We were set up … across the river there. We were selling burritos. It was called Senior’s Burritos,” Greg Marinez said of his father, Gary, or Gary Senior. “That was when we started out 26 years ago, and we’ve been running food trucks and catering and stuff ever since. It turned from Senior’s to Marinez’s Mexican Food. I bought a food truck, I think, 15, 20 years ago. … Our tacos, they kind of pop up and look like they’re flying, so we’ve been the Flying Taco ever since.”
More than a decade ago, the family had a restaurant in Lexington as the Flying Taco. And for the last several years, as a separate business, Greg’s son Ben has also been helping run things.
Greg Marinez said his father’s already retired, he’s more recently retired from decades with Chrysler — citing their business in Mexican food as a side gig — and that his son plans to take over in the future. Greg and his son live in Lexington, while Gary lives in Fort Gratiot. But Greg said he grew up in the Port Huron area.
On Friday, all of them — Greg and Ben wearing older Flying Taco T-shirts and Gary with an older Marinez emblem — said they were looking forward to coming to Beedon’s downtown Port Huron corner.
“I’m excited,” Ben said. “I’ve been helping out with the catering probably for six, seven years. I know basically how the trailer runs, more of the technical stuff, recipes and all that.”
‘It still tastes good’: Keeping family recipes alive
Greg and his son live in Lexington, while Gary lives in Fort Gratiot. But Greg said he grew up in the Port Huron area.
The menu they’ll start out with, he said, will be largely a la carte with items ranging from $4 to a $14 sharable nacho. Of course, Greg said a lot of that will include tacos, though they’ll also accommodate “a real fan favorite” in carnitas.
Some things they’ve catered like the stewed pork or a salsa are family recipes.
“All homemade. My mom used to make it with a molcajete. That’s one of those stones, and she used to grind with a stone and make her own salsa that way — grind the peppers and all that stuff. Then, I started doing it using a blender,” Gary Marinez said, spurring laughter among the group. “Mixed it all up. It still tastes good.”
Although they’ll also be open on Monday during the Memorial Day holiday weekend, Greg Marinez said they’ll largely be open weekly on Thursday through Sunday from lunchtime “until people are done eating or we run out of food.”
More on the space at Fourth, Wall streets
Beedon said he’s calling the space around the pod structure “The Lot,” and like the Marinez crew, he donned his own T-shirt Friday.
He said he found the Flying Taco by word of mouth, adding he was “overwhelmingly told” to work with them on his larger idea for the space. They’ve been in contact for a couple of months.
As of Friday, Beedon said electrical was done on site and that a water hookup was in the works next week. They were on track to host diners by the holiday weekend.
The food truck trailer will be located just south of the pod.
“Then, we have water troughs going in with tall grasses and a trellis,” Beedon said. “… What they’re going to do is they’re going to peel the gravel back, and we’re going to cedar mulch the drive.”
The space will also have solar-powered, colorful umbrellas to top its seating area and strung-up lights.
Of the pod itself, which is roughly 400 square feet in size, Beedon said, “We’re looking for opportunities for the right gig to come in here. It’s for lease, so we’re seeking a tenant.”
Beedon added he planned to arrange to have music on the deck Fridays and Saturdays and is hoping to host a family night on Thursdays.
He wasn’t sure yet when he may be able to bring in more food trucks down the road, but he added he hopes visitors will take advantage of the downtown social district to grab a cocktail and come get Mexican food this summer.
“This is trial and error for all of us. In my ideal world, I’d love to see it push through fall,” Beedon said. “But it’ll just depend on how the weather is and the reaction to people and their availability.”
Social media pages are in the works for both the Flying Taco and the Lot.
Contact Jackie Smith at (810) 989-6270 or [email protected] Follow her on Twitter @Jackie20Smith
This article originally appeared on Port Huron Times Herald: Mexican food truck to help fill out downtown Port Huron corner