Rene Valenzuela started as a young teenager with a taco stand in Mexico before developing his now-famous taco bus restaurant concept.
Valenzuela plans to open his fifth Taco Bus restaurant on Falkenburg Road, north of Adamo Drive by the first week of June.
“It’s authentic Mexican food,” said Valenzuela, who lives in Plant City with his wife, Yadira and . The couple has three children. “It’s very fresh – a lot of veggies. We have a large vegetarian menu.”
Valenzuela said the Taco Bus restaurant in Brandon will be open 24 hours on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays. On Sunday through Wednesday, the restaurant will be open from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m.
“It’s my passion,” he said. “Mexican food is street food. It’s delicious and very healthy. There are a lot of tomatoes, onions, cilantro, shredded cabbage. We use real steak and chicken. The tortillas are made with only corn and water. We don’t use lard in the beans.”
Valenzuela said he still uses two repurposed yellow school buses for traveling to catering events. But the bricks-and-mortar Taco Bus restaurant in Brandon will have seating for about 100 people inside. Valenzuela said he expects to hire at least 40 people.
He will also have outdoor seating with a canopy at the Brandon location, which sits on a former concrete plant property.
Originally from Monterey, Mexico, Valenzuela moved to Chicago in 1995 before relocating to Tampa about a year later.
He started with a taco stand on the corner before getting a trailer and then a restaurant in Mexico.
“When I came here and started I had to go back to a small trailer and then a small truck and then the Taco Bus that could accommodate a kitchen,” he said, adding he couldn’t afford to lease a restaurant in the beginning. He has had the Taco Bus business now for a decade.
“I wanted to do Brandon because there is a huge population there,” he said. “There is nothing like what we have. It’s a real cool place to hang out and get an inexpensive Mexican meal for under 10 bucks. You can enjoy it with your family and friends.”
Other Taco Bus locations include:
— 913 East Hillsborough Ave., Tampa. Call: (813) 232-5889
— 2324 Central Ave., St. Petersburg. Call: (727) 322-5000
— 505 Franklin St., Tampa. Call: (813) 397-2800
— 2320 East Fletcher Ave., Tampa. Call: (813) 977-6808.