HER STORY OF STRENGTH, COURAGE AND THE POWER OF FAMILY
By Carmen Vogel
“I couldn’t have imagined this better in my dreams!” says Marcela Ezeta with a smile, who, with a team of friends and family behind her, owns and operates the new authentic Mexican restaurant Tu Taco de la Calle located in the heart of Kensington in Calgary, Alberta. “It’s unreal how welcoming this community has been, and when you love what you do it doesn’t feel much like work, right?”
The Calgary resident, originally from Toluca, Mexico, had dreams of opening her own restaurant for as long as she can remember. “She prayed for it for years,” says daughter Alex. “The timing was never quite right, but it was something she was determined to make happen for our family.” she adds. Now, approaching their one-year anniversary in September, since opening their doors in the beautiful community of Kensington, Tu Taco is flourishing.
Owner, Tu Taco de Calle (Your taco from the streets).
She prayed for it for years,” says daughter Alex. “The timing was never quite right, but it was something she was determined to make happen for our family.”
THE ROAD TO KENSINGTON
Immigrating to Canada in 1993, Marcela and her husband Guillermo settled in Toronto to provide a better life and more opportunities for their young son, Mariano. It wasn’t long before they welcomed a daughter, Alex, but working in hotels and food service wasn’t enough for them. Marcela brought her family’s traditional recipes with them to stay close to their roots and keep their dreams of a restaurant alive.
“In Mexico, food is more than just a meal,” says Marcela, “It’s a time for the whole family to be together.” Growing up with generations of family working in restaurants and catering, the desire to open her own restaurant started young and she knew that she wanted to provide the same personal dining experiences she grew up with, to her guests.
Marcela and Guillermo always knew that owning a Mexican restaurant was the next step for their family, but two devastating diagnoses put the dream on hold. In 2015, their son Mariano was diagnosed with Leukemia and after a two-year battle, tragically passed in 2017. While the family grieved, Guillermo was given a cancer diagnosis in 2018 and passed only a few short months later.
The Early Years: Marcela and Guillermo with young Mariano and Alex.
Guillermo and Marcela on their wedding day.
Marcela and Alex’s world changed dramatically, but they both knew they needed to honour the memories of Guillermo and Mariano the only way they knew how; to make the dream of owning a restaurant a reality.
Calgary is where Marcela ended up, working alongside new immigrants from Latin America arriving in the country. As a Social Worker in the small close-knit community of Kensington, Marcela was given the unique opportunity to give back, and give back she did. “I lost a child, but I was given 10 more,” she adds. “Making the new immigrants feel welcome, helping them find homes and access to education, it was a passion for me.”
It wasn’t long before Marcela knew she was finally ready to open her own restaurant and honour her late husband and son. But she needed help. Guillermo had the business and accounting talents; she had the grit and determination. She reached out to the franchise company, Box Concepts Food Group, shared her story and vision, and Tu Taco was quickly born.
Marcela was given a unique opportunity to give back and give back she did: “I lost a child, but I was given 10 more.
Her goal was for her community to savour and experience what great Mexican food and culture is all about. Delicious, authentic Mexican meals made fresh at affordable prices with a whole lot of fun, just like the streets of Mexico.
A decade ago, it was difficult to find authentic Mexican street food in Calgary. For a long time, dining out for Mexican meant corporate fast-food chains or food trucks. But now, Calgary is starting to change, thanks to fewer trade restrictions, evolving food trends, changes in immigration patterns and restaurants such as Tu Taco, run by Marcela.
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“In Toluca, close to Mexico City, the best food you can find is on the street,” she says. “We have all that here at the restaurant, birria tacos, quesadillas and chilaquiles. I wanted to have foods from all parts of Mexico, too, different options for everyone”.
In 2021, Tu Taco de la Calle opened its doors and Marcela and Alex have not looked back. Today, some of the children Marcela met and helped those many years ago when they first arrived in Canada, are now working for her. Marcela and Alex are thriving, they are giving back, and they are living the dream they built together with Guillermo and Mariano.
The food is what you would find if you were walking down the street in Mexico City”, says Marcela. She adds, “It’s designed to be fast but very delicious and flavourful.”
Opening week at Tu Taco in Kensington.
6" Beef Birria Taco.
Authentic Mexican Street Tacos.
The best patio in town! .
Tu Taco's colourful and and traditional decor.
When you stop into this beautiful restaurant in Kensington, prepare yourself to be immersed in Mexican culture with colourful custom murals, hand painted tables by Marcela herself and traditional décor like sombreros and sugar skulls. You’ll likely see Marcela mingling with her guests or passionately handling the grill, too. Alex and her husband Matthew are often there dining in with baby Mariano Luca on favourites like Sopes and Tostadas. Laughter will fill your ears, as will the harmonious sounds of traditional Mexican music and the feeling of being a part of the family.
Exactly as it was always meant to be.