A vacation that turned out to be more work than play sparked a crazy idea for Isabel Sanchez and her husband, Daniel Huerta, that led to Portland’s red-hot food truck, Churros Locos.
During a trip along the Oregon coast, Sanchez and her husband met a gelato business owner who was lamenting about the lack of smell exuding from his shop to attract customers. In a flash, inspiration struck.
“My husband and I automatically thought of our childhood memories and our favorite dessert: churros,” Sanchez recalled, realizing that the powerful and nostalgic aroma of churros from her past could prove to be a bountiful business venture.
Both Sanchez and Huerta had full-time regular jobs, but the allure of the churro was something they knew they wanted to capitalize on. Instead of venturing out to open a traditional, brick-and-mortar churro shop, their wheels turned to a different track.
“We needed something that would provide flexibility, as well as minimal risk and investment at the beginning,” she said, highlighting the reasons why a food truck made the most sense for their churro business.
“We started small, slow, sweet and steady,” she said, noting that customers, friends and family slowly but surely began finding out and spreading the word about Churros Locos through social media, and their following and catering requests took off from there.
And while a food truck can provide some uniquely tricky obstacles like mechanical issues, especially for the dainty vintage truck that carts around Churros Locos, it’s been anything but a bumpy ride since Sanchez hit the road in 2013.
Should mechanical malfunctions arise, Sanchez breathes a sigh of relief that her husband is quite the handyman, lest Portlanders be deprived of their churros for too long.
The churro sundae in particular, a combination of piping-hot churros and cold ice cream, is what the people go truly loco for. Fans of the Portland Timbers and Thorns soccer teams have been indulging in these sundaes the most, as Churros Locos’ prime spot is the Providence Park Max Station just outside their playing field.
“Looking at the demographics, we knew there was a market and demand for a familiar and cultural dessert in Portland. Our hope is to develop a strong demand [for churros] across generations.”
Ask Sanchez her favorite part of owning a food truck, and her answer is deliciously simple: getting to share the churro love.
“We love how a delicious dessert can reach so many and help everyone come together in various scenarios: weddings, birthday parties, and street fairs.”
That churro love has spread, too. Churros Locos was selected to participate at the World Street Food Congress in Singapore, bringing their churros to an international audience of hungry foodies. But Sanchez isn’t letting this honor make her forget about Portland.
“Locally, we want to continue sharing our churros with Portlanders via our Churro Mobile, and eventually open a permanent location.”
With that promise, Sanchez will continue to drive Portlanders crazy because Churros Locos is here to stay.