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Goodbye Career, Hello Passion

Updated: Apr 25, 2022

When we tell people we’re opening a taco shop, we get a lot of questions. Our answers differ, depending on the question. Here's Frank's story…

I wanted to share a bit on “why now.” To begin, I’m walking away from a career in the printing and packaging industry that I’ve built over the past 30 years. We didn’t have a windfall of money. Nothing about this is simple or easy. I’m taking a leap of faith.

The idea of walking away from a career and financial security creates immense fear and stress. The weeks leading up to the day I submitted my resignation were filled with sleepless nights, days full of stress, and having little to no patience with my clients, coworkers, and most importantly, my person, Kaitlin. But when the day came, and I told my director, “I’m submitting my resignation,” all the fear and built-up anxiety quickly came and went with little fanfare. Was that it? I thought I would have to explain myself. In a way, I was a bit disappointed and offended when that didn’t happen. Nevertheless, a heavy burden lifted off my shoulders.

Anyway, I’ve thought a lot about this, especially lately. So, why would I leave my career and financial security? I need to go back to 1973 when I was four years old. I remember waking up every day, going with my dad to the tortillería (the tortilla factory) to pick up cases of flour tortillas in East LA for his delivery route that took him all over Los Angeles. Little did I know at that time, but my mom and dad had been saving money to buy their own small Mexican restaurant. That was the year they pulled the trigger on it and purchased El Burrito in Pomona, CA. And for the next 17 years, I worked alongside my parents and brothers and sisters in the family business. It was implied (expected) that my four siblings and I work in the restaurant to help support the family.

Over the years, my brothers and sisters and I got older, took different paths, and ultimately left the family business. So, in 1995, my parents sold the restaurant. It was a bittersweet, but I believed the family business had run its course. However, that didn’t stop my dad. He re-invented himself. He made and sold granola for several years until one day he was asked to make tacos for a boxing watch party, and this is where my dad as he’s known now (el taquero) was born.

In the early 2000s, the LA taco scene was just starting. Where in the past you had a catering truck, now there were taco trucks and taco carts. The taco scene quickly erupted. I saw my seasoned and experienced dad hustle and compete with all the new taqueros who jumped onto the scene because they thought it was easy money. But my dad worked hard. He booked out every weekend months in advance. He catered work parties, birthday parties, quinceañeras, baptisms, and any other special occasion someone had.

And he faced other challenges, like competing against the taqueros undercutting him on cost. Every time I talked to him, I’d ask him how things were going and he would smile and nod, assuring me that everything was just fine. He was technically retired and this was his way to generate extra cash to make ends meet or to buys his antojitos (knick-knacks).

I was so impressed with my dad. It was just him, his taco cart, and all the equipment that fit in his Nissan pick-up truck. He operated like this for 10-15 years. I’d watched him hustle and work hard my whole life and by example he instilled that in me as well. That taquero journey for my dad came to end as he got older and had some health complications (he’s doing well now, for the record). But it never left him completely.

When I met Kaitlin in 2013, I told her stories about my family history. One day I shared with her that I would love to pursue my family legacy of owning a taco shop. To my surprise, she encouraged me to do it! So in 2017, while living in San Luis Obispo, California, we launched a part-time weekend taco pop-up called F‘n K Tacos (Frank ‘n Kaitlin), with the hopes that one day it would become a small taqueria (taco shop). Little did either of us realize how much of a demand there was.

Our first event, Bacon and Barrels, was huge. We served 700 tacos to attendees! (This wouldn’t have been possible without the support of my dad, mom, and little brother who came up from LA to help us.) This one event led to us having taco pop-ups literally every weekend. I was working an extra 50 hrs a week on top of my full-time role in printing and packaging. Kaitlin was pulling double-duty, too. Then in 2018, Kaitlin experienced some health problems and it became unsustainable for us. We made a hard stop at that time, but the experience proved something to me: Kaitlin and I have what it takes to create a successful brick-and-mortar taco shop.

Fast forward to March 2022 after relocating to West Michigan and getting through the pandemic, the perfect opportunity presented itself to us. A small, commercial kitchen space became available in the city we now live in, Rockford, MI. I’m so honored and blessed to have a partner (Kaitlin, the K) who shares my values and pushed me to pursue my family traditions. But more importantly, to have the chance to honor my father, Jesus Lamas, the original taquero from La Puente, CA

I don’t know what the future will bring F’n K Tacos. What I do know is that I’ll be slinging tacos every day with love and pride to honor my family legacy and build a small business in a community I love.

Mark Twain once said, “Courage isn’t the absence of fear. It’s acting in spite of it.” And that’s what we’re doing. May we all have the courage to act in times of fear.

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Great story and so excited to try your tacos. We needed a good taco place in Rockford



Congratulations Frank and Kaitlin. That's the American spirit. Why Michigan? I was born and raised and escaped from Detroit in '67. All the best wishes for fun and success.



Congrats on your new venture here in Rockford, Mi. Love you two!



Congratulations on perusing your passion! Printing was an amazing career but true love in business is doing what you want and calling your own shots! I know you guys will do well. God Bless you both and sling those tacos Brother 🌮🙏🏽 TonyG...



I’m so excited for you two and your taco shop! I’m also excited for me, as I LOVE TACOS!!🌮

Will you guys have beer and wine as well?

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