A Mexican chef known for his tacos, quesadillas and burritos who brought his food truck to New Kensington’s monthly Fridays on the fifth last year will open a restaurant in the city.
Jose Tecuanhuehue plans to open Taqueria El Pastorcito in March. It will be at 929 Fourth Ave. in the space where Original Hot Dog Factory was for just over a year before closing late last year.
Tecuanhuehue, 38, from Puebla, Mexico, came to the United States in 2000 and moved to Pittsburgh after living in Indiana. He has lived in the south side of town for seven years with his wife of 11, Bernice, and their two sons, 7 and 13, and daughter, 11.
He was a cook in restaurants before working in construction for a few years just to try something new before deciding with his wife to start his own business. He launched his food truck, a small trailer, in June, taking it to breweries, festivals and other events.
“I heard New Kensington was bad. From what I’m hearing now, I know they’re rebuilding everything. I really want to be a part of it,” he said. left with my company.”
Those who attended Fifth Fridays will find the same food available at the Tecuanhuehue truck at the restaurant, as well as more and different offerings, such as an octopus torta.
“We’re going to have a different kind of tortas,” he said. “We will see how customers react. If there is something they ask for, we can make it happen.
An effort of New Kensington and its recreation commission, Fridays on Fifth features food trucks along Fifth Avenue and aims to showcase businesses in the city.
“I think it’s fantastic that a food truck that has come to our Friday’s on Fifth event regularly has been supported by so many people that they felt strong enough to open their business in our downtown area,” said Mayor Tom Guzzo. “They were very popular, and their food and good service were very well received here on those Fridays.”
Tecuanhuehue said he was invited to New Kensington by Tony Vigilante, a city attorney who owns the Fourth Avenue building where the restaurant will be located. Vigilante and his wife, Nicole, a member of the recreation commission that owns Trovo on Fifth Avenue, were instrumental in organizing and promoting the event.
Vigilante said he asked Tecuanhuehue to come to the first event in July, which was a surprise hit. He attended each until the last in October.
Fifth Fridays are due to resume on April 22 and Tecuanhuehue said he will continue to participate.
Vigilante said Tecuanhuehue’s food is “really authentic,” almost exactly the same as what one would get in Mexico.
“It provides great food and it will draw people in,” Vigilante said. “He has people who are fans who are going to come from other areas.”
Michelle Thom, operations manager at nearby Voodoo Brewery New Kensington, co-sponsor of Fridays on Fifth, said it was nice to see one of the event’s food truck operators open a restaurant in the city. .
“I think it’s great. We need more restaurants downtown,” she said. “New Kensington is a destination again.”
Vigilante, which has its office downtown, said it has seen a significant increase in foot traffic, which is necessary for business development.
He expects that to continue to grow as new businesses and facilities, such as the Digital Foundry, open.
Tecuanhuehue’s business will be set up to not rely solely on customers walking through the door. In addition to opening the restaurant, Tecuanhuehue said he would launch a second food truck.
Thom said that sounded like a good game plan.
“It combines its food truck and restaurant side with a physical restaurant,” she said. “They run it themselves as a family.”