Street tacos in groups of two or three are crowded onto a plate. Small enough to fit comfortably in one hand, they are typically open-faced and show off their contents: fresh meat with colorful veggies and spices.
When most people hear the word “taco,” they picture a crunchy, crispy, golden taco or a fluffy tortilla stuffed with various meats, beans, cheese and vegetables. But the Bearded Brothers Tacos food truck wants to bring authentic Southern California-style tacos to the Midwest.
Born and raised in Orange County on the golden coast of California, Matthew Haller, one of the owners of Bearded Brothers Tacos, was inspired by his roots to bring a new food truck to mid-Missouri.
“When people think of Mexican food, it's usually a combination of Mexican-American-style food," Haller says, "and I wanted to be different.”
Though the motivation to get the taco truck running was high, the development was much tougher than the owners could have ever imagined. The taco truck opened just as the state started to re-open.
But with many local businesses keeping their doors closed, the necessary licensing and approval to run a business was hard to obtain.
“At first, it felt like everything had hit the wall,” Haller says. “COVID-19 made it so hard to accomplish the business because we weren't able to go to places in Columbia, such as city hall, to get everything approved.”
Even after collecting the right documentation for the taco truck to get up and running, the challenges continued. Since meat-processing plants were shutting down due to employees contracting the virus, the Bearded Brothers have had to travel to places such as Kansas City for ingredients, and price increases led to bigger problems.
“I have to travel around Missouri to get the food products, and everything is up in the air with what is in stock,” Haller says. “The prices in the products are rising, but I am not going to raise prices on our customers because of it; that is not fair or realistic.”
Opening up a month early, the Bearded Brothers Tacos food truck hit the road and, to their surprise, found success right away.
Despite the continuing pandemic, people lined up to taste their delicious street tacos. As their popularity grew, the truck began selling out almost every time it opened to the public.
“We have gotten so much positive feedback from the community," Haller says. "People have even been asking us to come and serve food at certain places. It's been a good kind of overwhelming to be able to book and go out during this crazy time.”
As Missouri starts to slowly make its way back to normal, the Bearded Brothers are making sure to follow strict guidelines to prevent any of their employees or customers from getting sick.
Their process to order is simple: customers maintain a 6-foot distance between each other in line, and employees wear the necessary protective equipment to cook and serve the food. They also sanitize and wipe everything down to help combat the spread.
“We go above and beyond to ensure that our customers and employees are safe and that we are doing our part to help stop the spread,” Haller says. “It's just tough to not be able to interact with the customers. I'm a really big people person.”
The Bearded Brothers Tacos food truck can be seen driving around Columbia and making various stops throughout the week. To keep up with their journey, follow their Facebook page and see all upcoming locations and mouth-watering taco selections.