After dedicating his life to becoming an entrepreneur, Sergio Tapia has exceeded that on many different levels. From owning his own business at just 20-years-old to now becoming the sole owner of the Taco Truck Cantina in Porterville, Tapia still isn’t done chasing his dreams.
“I’ve always been a little entrepreneur, since I was like seven years old,” said Tapia. “I remember doing deals with my brother at a young age. I even sold my room once. My dad would always get me in trouble. One time he bought me a bike, and I came back with just the rim.”
Born and raised in Porterville, and a graduate of Granite Hills High School, Tapia says helping his community and growing his business profile are what puts him in his happy place.
His first business was a western wear clothing store in Porterville called El Potrero Western Wear. He sold that business and bought himself his first taco truck at 22-years-old. Tapia said unfortunately his first taco truck wasn’t profitable, so he sold it. He went back into the clothing business, opening his second clothing store on Oak Avenue called Estilo A La Moda. After selling his second clothing store in pursuit of a vacant piece of land on the east side of Porterville, he envisioned a successful taco truck being placed on the property, and found just the right person and truck to put on the lot.
The owner of the taco truck that was placed on Tapia’s property was turning over a good profit, and still does, so Tapia sold the owner the property. With the money from that sell, Tapia purchased his first home, which he flipped and sold. He also purchased a duplex and flipped that too.
“That’s how everything started really,” said Tapia. “Now I own 75 rental properties here in Porterville, Strathmore and Lindsay. That’s what I do. It’s my passion, and I love doing it. I love finding ugly houses, fixing them up and making them look pretty. It’s my passion and I have so much energy inside me that I needed to find a way to keep myself busy. I’m always looking for something to do.”
Tapia said he’s inspired by his father, whose dream was to own a taco truck, a restaurant and a bar.
“I’m not here because I want to make money,” said Tapia. “I’m here because it’s a happy place in my life to fulfill my dad’s dream. My dad is still alive, but works in the fields as a foreman. He’s still healthy but never accomplished his dream of owning a restaurant. I’m sure my dad feels proud of me, and I use that as fuel. It feels me up with joy and it fuels me to just keep going and grinding for my real estate business.”
Even though Tapia is most comfortable in the real estate business, he’s now the owner of Taco Truck Cantina on Main Street.
“I aways wanted to own a restaurant and one day, I was here having a great lunch and I asked the owner if he would be interested in selling his business to me,” said Tapia. “And he told me right there he would sell it to me.”
Tapia wanted to bring a modern twist to a traditional taco truck but after going to the city to ask if he could put a taco truck within the city limits, and being told no, Tapia says he saw a problem and knew exactly how he would get the solution he wanted. And the Taco Truck Cantina was born.
Tapia says he “put a taco truck inside the building” which solved several problems posed by outdoor taco trucks.
“I can make the environment feel like people are at an actual taco truck, but know they won’t have to deal with flies, there will always be the perfect weather, we sell alcohol and beer and we have restrooms. That was my vision and that’s still my goal. I want the taco truck side of the Taco Truck Cantina to be more successful, so I need more customers on that side.”
Tapia said one of his biggest mentors, longtime community leader Daryl Nicholson, gave him advice he always looks back on.
“(Nicholson) told me that in order to be successful in life, you have to solve people’s problems,” said Tapia.
Tapia is now inviting the community to come and check out the newest items on the Taco Truck Cantina’s menu. These items include Hot Cheetos burritos, Cali burritos, breakfast items and menudo. He assured his staff takes the utmost precautions in safety and sanitation for the health of their customers during the COVID-19 pandemic. He also encourages the community to come and build a relationship with him and his business.