By Brian Fenley/reporter
From a single taco truck to successfully creating an independent chain, speaker and local entrepreneur Sarah Castillo taught students how to build a taco business Oct. 10 in the TR Campus Idea Store.
Her path to entrepreneurship was marked by a series of what she called “ding-ding-ding” moments, the connect-the-dots path to success for Castillo, founder of Taco Heads, a small-yet-growing chain of restaurants in Fort Worth and Dallas.
Castillo offered entrepreneurial advice and free tacos to all students and staff who attended.
Business inspiration can come from one idea or a fusion of many, and Castillo said her inspirations for her career choice were no exception. When she would get fresh ideas, she called them “ding-ding-ding moments.”
Her most memorable moment happened the morning she woke up and told her mother about a dream.
“I had a dream I had a taco truck,” she said.
“You could do this,” her mother said.
“I think I want to,” Castillo said.
A piece of advice given to her in her teens stuck with her.
“Don’t forget where you come from,” a teacher told her. “Don’t forget who you are.”
These words of wisdom from a teacher at Paschal High School eventually became another “lightbulb” moment for her. Little did she know at the time, she would one day return to her hometown and establish her taco business.
The next entrepreneurship “ding” involved a college trip to Mexico with a group of friends where she tried authentic street tacos. The fresh ingredients at the taco trucks inspired her.
Later, while experiencing the nightlife along Sixth Street in Austin with fellow University of Texas students, she watched the long lines form at a food truck selling bratwurst. The vendor made a lot of money that night, and she filed away another “ding.”
Her work in New York at a boutique hotel taught her to obsess over every detail. And her travels to Spain introduced her to the dining scene and the concept of food as an event.
Castillo returned from Spain with negative-$50 in her bank account. Once again living with her parents, she got two jobs, saved her money and thought about what she wanted to do next.
After leaving the clubs for the night, she realized the only food available late in the evening was fast food places. She recognized another opportunity to create what her hometown had been missing all along: something real and fresh.
After saving enough money, she bought a truck and a trailer and set up her taco business behind a bar on Fort Worth’s Seventh Street. Her dream was finally starting to unfold. She was operating her very own taco truck.
After the truck operated there for six years, Castillo said she wanted to turn it into a brick-and-mortar business, so she saved her money once again.
She discovered her business partner, Jacob Watson, when he was an Uber driver for her. He was a TCU and Duke MBA graduate and also a fan of her business. So he handed her his card and said, “I want to be your business partner.”
The two developed a business strategy and located a building on Montgomery Street in Fort Worth for the first Taco Heads storefront in 2016. The Dallas Taco Heads location opened in July of this year. They will open a new restaurant called Tinie’s in March 2019, named for her mother, which will offer higher-end cuisine.
“It’s a good way to help others listening to a successful businessperson’s story,” TR student Justyn Lane said.
Castillo concluded with words of advice: Service is important, make guests feel important and special, and bring in business partners who balance out weak areas.
“It feels good to know that someone from Fort Worth actually is coming back and try to just spread what they learned to the younger generation and possibly give them information that we can give the next generation to come,” NE student Manuel Urbima said.