This story was written by Kelli Kyle and Ian Stone of the Ithaca College student publication “Ithaca Week.”
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ITHACA, N.Y. — “One steak, one carnitas, one chicken — walking in!” Jorge Bouras shouts the incoming order to his kitchen crew on the Dos Amigos Taco Truck.
During the late hours of the weekend nights, while most Cornell students out in Collegetown are celebrating the end of a long week, Jorge Bouras, junior, and David Farahi, senior, and their staff are cooking up tacos and quesadillas in a small mobile kitchen.
“We basically gave up our social lives, but it’s a lot of fun,” Farahi said. “Long days, but you get the gratification of making people happy and serving them what they love.”
The students are co-owners of Dos Amigos Tacos, a food truck that launched in August 2015. Farahi and Bouras came up with the idea in a business plan course last fall and made it a reality this year. Parked on the corner of Dryden Road and Eddy Street in Ithaca, the Dos Amigos Taco Truck brings authentic Mexican food to the late night Collegetown crowds.
The truck is currently open from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m., Thursday through Saturday. The owners said while the crowds have been pretty good, the hours of operation are limited by the city, or else they would open for lunch and dinner as well.
In a town full of food trucks — The Circus Truck, Louie’s Lunch and the Hot Truck, to name a few — Farahi and Bouras said many of the vendors were very willing to help with the launch of Dos Amigos Tacos.
“Everyone wants to help everyone — not really viewed as a competition,” Farahi said. “Obviously sometimes they’re the same places technically competing, but people are happy to see other people succeed and be entrepreneurial and do something on their own.”
During the late hours, people approach the “order here” window of the intricately-designed truck, where they can choose from the “Chicki Minaj,” “Destiny’s Chicken” or a selection of other tacos named after popular music groups.
Sam Epps, a Chef at the Gola Osteria restaurant in Ithaca, helped the truck establish plans to manage its kitchen for the business’s launch seven weeks ago. Epps said he does not see too much competition for Dos Amigos Tacos, because it provides something unique and appealing to the crowds.
“It’s all handheld food, you could get it quickly and then walk away and eat it while you walk down the street,” Epps said. “It seems like the college students really want that kind of thing up there.”
While Epps helped the team with a system for food production, the knowledge of the food itself came from Bouras and Farahi’s backgrounds with Mexican food. Their menu reflects that knowledge, featuring choices of meat/vegetable substitute and other authentic menu items. With all of this, it’s difficult to choose a favorite — but for Bouras, the decision is easy.
“Carnitas taco for sure,” Bouras said. “For me, coming from a Mexican background, carnitas are like a go to. That’s what they serve at a taco joint in Mexico.”
It’s that love of authentic Mexican food that motivated Bouras and Farahi to open Dos Amigos Tacos. They said in Ithaca, there aren’t many options for people in search of that traditional taco with all of the amenities.
“Not a lot of people have tried authentic tacos,” Farahi said. “There are more and more places that are popping up in town that are replicating and coming close, but we just want other people to try our food.”
Farahi and Bouras said the food they make is similar to what they had back home on the West Coast. Their homemade corn tortillas and variety of traditional taco selections remind Cornell sophomore Courtney Bui of her experience with Mexican food at home.
“I’m from California, and I really miss actual Mexican food, and there’s not really that much of it here or close to here,” Bui said. “So it was just something that I really wanted to try. Kind of remind me of home.”
Bui and other Cornell students have been exposed to Dos Amigos Tacos through local events, as well as sheer proximity to the campus, but Farahi is striving to interact with students from Ithaca College as well.
“We’re really focusing now on reaching out to the greater Ithaca community,” Farahi said. “We’d love to come to IC (and) do events in town.”
This is Bouras and Farahi’s last year together at Cornell, which leaves some questions about the future of Dos Amigos Tacos. The owners said they do not know yet what will come with the winter season or with food truck legislation in Ithaca. For now, Farahi said the guys are not too worried.
“This is a dream of mine and Jorge’s, and this is the only time we’d be able to do it,” Farahi said. “We’re just taking it day by day right now and seeing where it takes us. We just want to serve people tacos for as long as we can and make people as happy as we can.”
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