Family affair

Hispanic Heritage Month: North Alabama’s tamale truck is a family affair

In honor of National Hispanic Heritage Month, the City of Huntsville is highlighting the work of volunteers, leaders and organizations that have had a significant impact on the city’s Hispanic/Latino populations.

Before Teresita’s Tamales became the first tamale truck in northern Alabama, it was a humble undertaking for a family looking to make ends meet.

Yesenia Stark (above) owns a local food truck, Teresita’s Tamales, with her sister, Jessica Sanchez.

“My dad used to drive around and sell my mom Teresita’s tamales and Mexican street corn in his car to various Hispanic restaurants around town as well as construction sites,” said Yesenia Stark, co-owner of the business with her daughter. sister Jessica Sanchez. “After years of talking about starting a business, we finally decided to make it happen during COVID in 2020 and started working on opening the food truck.”

During National Hispanic Heritage Month, Stark took the time to talk about his family’s home business, what it means to own a Hispanic business, and his dreams for the Huntsville area. The month-long celebration, which ends October 15, is held annually to recognize the achievements and contributions of Hispanic American champions who have inspired others to succeed.

What does it mean to own a Hispanic business in Huntsville?

Stark: It’s an exciting time to be a small business owner and an even more exciting time to be a Hispanic-owned business. We strive to provide authentic Mexican food, which has meant it’s been a little difficult to market a tamale or even some of our other dishes. We have many who will tell us that we have never had a tamale or elote (Mexican street corn).

What are the benefits and challenges?

Teresita's Tamales Food Truck with Menu Board

Since opening in May 2021, Teresita’s Tamales has quickly gained a loyal following for its authentic Mexican cuisine.

Huntsville is growing rapidly, which means there are people coming from all over. Being able to be part of such a growing community has definitely been a plus. Personally, I think Hispanic-owned businesses are a bit behind the times given that they have to build everything from scratch, often struggling to get a loan, not understanding the laws and guidelines, and not not knowing where to turn for help in creating a business plan. Of course, these are areas that any small business owner starting out has, but I think Hispanic-owned businesses have a harder time with this.

Why is it important to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month?

Hispanics are part of American national life and have played and continue to play a role in building a better United States of America and a better Huntsville, Alabama. Hispanic voices and dreams are important and celebrating Hispanic successes is just as important. We grew up in Huntsville and have a desire to share our Hispanic roots and culture not only with our children but also with our community.

Are you happy to be part of this community? How do you see your business growing in the future?

I am so excited to be part of this community. I’m originally from Mexico City but have lived here since I was seven years old and grew up in the area. Now being part of not only the Hispanic community, but also the small business community, means so much to me and my family. Of course, we dream of where the business can go. High on our list is to buy land and have a brick and mortar store with a kitchen from which we can operate multiple food trucks and service not only Huntsville but the surrounding areas of North America. ‘Alabama.