Lake Taco: The Story of One Local Family Backed by Their Community
By Jordan Flores, Next Door Inc.
Lake Taco, a family-owned and operated restaurant in Hood River, is one of nearly 80 local businesses currently supported by Promoting Prosperity (PPP), a program of The Next Door’s Economic Development Services. The PPP team specializes in small business development for Latino entrepreneurs, providing education, business planning resources, and guidance to new and existing business owners in The Gorge, as well as assistance in securing funding to help make their dream a reality.
In the fall of 2022, Lake Taco owners Enrique and Maria Ortega unexpectedly found themselves in a race against time to find a new space for their restaurant before their lease’s end, or risk closing down for good. Fortunately, they were able to secure a prime, downtown Hood River location, in what was formerly Evoke Winery and Brian’s Pourhouse. This meant more exposure, more opportunity, and more growth for the family’s small business. However, they weren’t in the clear just yet. Quadruple the space meant a more significant financial undertaking for Lake Taco to furnish their restaurant, purchase the necessary equipment to operate, and hire supporting staff. So, the Ortegas turned to Kickstarter and their beloved community for support.
Community volunteer, Becky Brun, helped coordinate and support the restaurant’s campaign. With only a week left, Lake Taco reached their $40,000 goal for their new space, backed by local and out-of-area supporters, who returned the favor to this longtime community-oriented establishment that generously offered a discount to healthcare workers during the pandemic. The Ortegas even went on to hit their campaign’s stretch goal, raising nearly $9,000 more before their Kickstarter ended, and in January 2023, Enrique and Maria opened for the first time at their new and improved downtown location.
At 606 Oak Street, you can now find Lake Taco’s authentic, Mexican cuisine, made using locally grown and mostly organic ingredients, in a beautifully reimagined, colorful, and inviting new space. Among their Kickstarter-supported improvements is a tortilla press, used to make and sell Lake Taco’s very own homemade, fresh tortillas “that people can enjoy at home,” just as they’d hoped for in their original campaign story; a true full-circle moment.
The Next Door wishes an abundance of continued success and community support for Lake Taco in this new and exciting chapter of their family business!
For more information about The Next Door’s Promoting Prosperity program, call 541-386-6665 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.