After the Paz Cantina taco truck was repossessed in January, owner Michael Reyes was sitting in Cobra Arcade with friends and a simple question: What are we going to do?
“The whole story of the phoenix is rise up, so I never pinche quit. That’s my attitude, that’s my mentality right now, even when things get tough,” Reyes said, using a Spanish expletive. “As Phoenicians we gotta endure the tough elements, the tough mentality, the tough politics all these things that are tough narrative right now. We never pinche quit.”
Over micheladas, Reyes and his friends formulated the idea of a new truck and venture: Pinche Love. Reyes hopes to launch his new venture soon, along with partners Lalo Cota, Sam Gomez and financial manager Kendra Wake.
The new truck is no short order. The goal is to raise $28,000 through a kickstarter. If the money is raised by the April 13 deadline, they hope to hit the streets a month after. If money isn’t raised in full, Reyes will receive no money.
The plan is to first open a Pinche Taco Bar on March 28 at the Bar Smith near Second and Washington streets.
“This truck will be on the streets when it’s scheduled to and when it has a purpose,” Reyes said. He said they have already sourced some equipment. The truck will primarily act as a catering truck for now, and food will also be served out of Bar Smith to the public. When it isn’t catering, it will focus on activism and events like rallies and First Fridays. The menu will also be slightly different and have more vegetarian options.
Reyes recognizes not everyone will understand his concept or even its name. In Castilian Spanish ‘pinche’ means ‘little chef’s assistant,’ what Reyes was to his mother. But to many local Chicanos it means ‘little fucking taco’ or ‘little fucking burrito’ which he finds fitting.
“It means a lot of different things, but I have thought hard,” Reyes said. “I know where it came from, and it came from everything that’s happening, all my experiences and literally my culture.”
While this will be a separate venture from Paz, Reyes still hopes to open a new brick-and-mortar version of Paz this December. The Paz taco truck was originally launched after Paz Cantina’s old location at Roosevelt and Third closed in November 2015.
Wake said she is very excited about the new venture. She had met Reyes last summer, and talked about different ideas and ventures that they have worked on separately since then. Reyes said he needs someone to help organize.
“Michael and I met last summer and just seeing each other around and talking about different ventures and different opportunities, and this just kind of presented itself,” Wake said.
Reyes said Wake will help keep the “crazies,” himself and the other partners who are more creative types, on track. Wake said she will “keep the flow going.”
He also hopes to bring back his “Grateful Tuesday Service to the Homeless & Hungry of Phoenix.” Through Paz, he helped serve a total of 30,000 free tacos and burritos to the homeless.
“Getting up on Tuesday mornings sucks. You have a responsibility and who’s gonna be there? Nobody,” Reyes said. “Why didn’t anyone step up? They’re still a mission. The homeless didn’t go away.”
Reyes said he learned to feed 400 homeless people in an hour and a half. This skill helped him learn how to make a smaller, smarter truck.
“This truck is gonna be a Frankenstein truck, but like all of us a little bit why throw away the old when it’s still good. It just needs a purpose,” Reyes said. “If I have to Frankenstein my life again this is my effort.”
Correction: March 20, 2017:
An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated the year that Paz Cantina closed. It has been corrected and updated to reflect November 2016 the correct date.
Contact the reporter at Kara.Carlson@asu.edu.