Food Truck Freedom

Local food truck vendors are grateful for entrepreneurial lifestyle

By Dianna Troyer

Francisco Rivas, right, and his father-in-law, Jose Prado enjoy the entrepreneurial lifestyle operating their food truck Taqueria El Compa. Photo courtesy of Taqueria El Compa

From a bus boy to business owner, food truck entrepreneur Francisco Rivas started Taqueria El Compa in 2017 in Wells.

Francisco’s inspiration came about after talking with friends and family, especially his father-in-law who suggested they become business partners and share their love of cooking for loyal customers who have become like family.

At 1196 6th Street, Francisco is open from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday. He also travels to cater events throughout northern Nevada.

“Who would have thought that with this food you can get so many smiles,” he says of daily specials. “We have travelers and truckers along with local ranchers. They tell us the food is tasty, and they like how they’re treated. We like to spoil them.”

The energized entrepreneur comes up with mottos wherever he cooks, whether in town for business meetings, at family celebrations, or community events like the local car show.

“We will serve you as you deserve,” he says. “Whatever we cook for you, we prepare it with pleasure.”

Not wanting to keep the joys of entrepreneurship to himself, Francisco promotes and encourages Wells’ youth with their home-based businesses.

“We would love to see you supporting our Wells entrepreneurs at the Acton Children’s Business Fair,” he posted on the tauqeria’s Facebook page last spring when local teens sold their wares at the fair at the Northeastern Nevada Museum in Elko.

Francisco serves up tacos with fresh ingredients.

16 years ago, Francisco began navigating his entrepreneurial path. He worked as a bus boy at the Cimarron West Family Restaurant in Elko.

“About six months after I started, they asked if I’d like to learn to be the line cook,” Francisco says. “I said, ‘Sure, why not.’ With that experience, I was eventually able to get hired at Bella’s Restaurant in Wells as a lead cook.”

A few years ago, his family decided to start their food truck business. Francisco works with his in-laws Jose Prado and Hortensia Huerta. Francisco and Jose cook, while Hortensia takes orders and makes salsas and rice.

“We all count on each other to make our family business possible,” Francisco says.

They apply their culinary expertise for appreciative returning customers, posting daily specials on Facebook.

“Hoyyyyy!!! We are ready friends, with some delicious quesabirrias today, don’t stay with the craving and come try them!!”

A reviewer on, Jim S. wrote, “Best Mexican food we’ve eaten on our seven week road trip! You don’t have to go to a restaurant to get authentic Mexican food.”

On the Restaraunt Ji website, a reviewer described the food as “delicious, fresh and the portion was huge.”

At the end of the day, Francisco says he remembers what motivates him.

“From our family at Taqueria el Compa, we always thank our friends, family, and customers for supporting our business,” he says. “We are truly thankful to everyone.”

Taqueria el Jaguar

Hortensia takes taco orders at the truck. Photos courtesy of Taqueria El Compa

Franco Mondragon relishes running his own business, Taqueria el Jaguar, in Wells and Jackpot.

“I love the freedom of being my own boss,” Franco says. “If I do something wrong, nobody can yell at me except me.”

The food truck idea originated with his father-in-law, Jesus Salas, from Jackpot.

“I started making tacos for family events, and everybody loved them,” Franco says. “Jesus told me I should sell tacos at the Jackpot Jam. I took his advice, and it was a hit.”

In 2014, they became partners in the food truck venture.

“Jesus has a full-time job, but I decided to fully immerse myself in the business,” Franco says. “It’s been great.”

Because the business started in Jackpot and the school mascot is a Jaguar, he named his truck after the fearsome feline.

“Plus, I love Jaguars,” Franco says.

The name of Franco Mondragon’s food truck is inspired by Jackpot’s high school mascot, the jaguar. Photo Courtesy of Franco Mondragon

Last year, customers who became friends from Wells asked Franco about going to the local car show the last weekend of July at Wells City Park.

“Wells Propane was kind to let us park on their property and even though we weren’t in the car show, the truck was a huge hit so we stayed in Wells,” he says.

Franco knew he wanted a second unit in Jackpot, so the second food truck opened on April 20 at Thrive. He operates Monday to Thursday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. at 970 6th Street in Wells. The second unit in Jackpot is open Friday and Saturday from 2 p.m. to 10 p.m.

Travelers and regular customers have left 5-star reviews on social media.

“We travel all over the U.S., and this little food truck has the best Mexican food we’ve ever had by far,” a reviewer wrote on the Restaraunt Ji website. “Everything was fresh with little extras such as sauteed onions, radishes and roasted jalapenos! Amazing!”

Describing the food truck in Jackpot, C. Quillen wrote on the Restaraunt Guru website, “Super awesome Mexican food—made with love and served with a smile. Best lengua I have ever had!”

foodtruck iconFranco says he and his employees cater for businesses and family events.

“We’d like to thank Roadway Company, Wells Propane, Wells Rural Electric, the town of Jackpot /Public Works Department, Jackpot Fire Department, Cactus Pete’s, and Thrive,” he says. “We’re grateful for all our wonderful customers.”