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Food trucks and live entertainment comes to Tom Hughes Civic Center Plaza in downtown Hillsboro.

PMG PHOTO: CHRISTOPHER OERTELL - Manny Alejandro hands a customer back his card at the Tacontendo food truck at the Tom Hughes Civic Center Plaza in Hillsboro. The truck is one of several stopping by downtown every Friday this summer.As a neighbor to Portland, Hillsboro has the luxury of being close to the city's burgeoning food scene with its seemingly inexhaustible variety of restaurants, popular food carts and businesses set on perfecting one specific food item.

This summer, residents of Hillsboro won't have to drive as far as Portland to indulge in the latest and greatest of Portland's cuisine, with several up-and-coming food trucks stopping by for Food Truck Fridays at the Tom Hughes Civic Center Plaza in downtown each Friday from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. through August.

The high costs of opening a restaurant, in addition to Portland's increasing rent and competitive restaurant scene, is making aspiring restauranteurs opt for a less costly and less perilous option. Rather than opening up a brick and mortar restaurant, people of all sorts of backgrounds — from 9-to-5 desk jockeys to cooks tired of working under authoritarian chefs to immigrants living out their dream of owning a business — are investing what they have in opening a food truck. Food truck owners have one thing in common: a willingness to work tirelessly and to take big risks for the food they are passionate about.

Food Truck Fridays

Date: Fridays through Aug. 30, 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.

Location: Tom Hughes Civic Center Plaza, 150 E. Main St., Hillsboro

To see the schedule

of Food Trucks and Entertainment for

Food Truck Friday visit: the city's website

Café de Crepe

Originally a food trailer by Chayanid Cook, Café de Crepe got its start nine years ago and is scheduled to return July 12.

After immigrating to the United States from Thailand, Cook became enchanted with creating crepes and decided to try incorporating her native cuisine into the item.

"There is this amazing vessel, a crepe, that we can do all sorts of things with to really change the perspective on our traditional idea of what a crepe should be," said Samuel Cook, Chayanid's husband.

After noticing how important seasons played in the success of their business — noting a huge spike in the summer followed by a sharp decline in the winter — Samuel decided to join his wife and purchase a food truck to make Café de Crepe mobile.

"Not only did I love owning my own business and working with my wife, but I also loved what she had done with her recipes," Samuel Cooks said. "One day, we hope to open up a brick and mortar Café de Crepe so that we can really be a 'café' in more than name only."

Coin Operated Boy

Co-owned by friends Stephanie Schloesser and Tamisha Jenkins, Coin Operated Boy participated in Food Truck Fridays in June and will return July 19.

After working together in the military, Schloesser and Jenkins wanted a change in their career.

"We wanted to be our own bosses and get involved with the community," said Schloesser. "What better way to start a business than opening up a food truck?"

Getting started wouldn't be so easy. After being robbed by the mechanic who sold them their food truck, Jenkins and Schloesser had to double down on their investments, paying for two food trucks but only receiving one.

"We gave up everything, 401ks, houses, all of it — to chase a dream," Schloesser said.

Despite their initial obstacles, the two carried on and are now starting to see their business pick up.

"Everything we do is farm-to-table," Schloesser said. "We want to do five-star quality food off of a food truck."

When asked about future plans for Coin Operated Boy, Schloesser said she hopes to eventually purchase a farm. "That way we can self-sustain and do everything organic," she said.

Tacontento

A family owned and operated food truck, Tacontento will return to Food Truck Fridays in August after visiting twice in June.

"Like all businesses, it is always difficult to start," said Joel Cuevas, co-owner of Tacontento, which has only been open for 10 months. Since immigrating to Hillsboro from Jalisco, Mexico, in 2001 Cuevas has — like many immigrants — worked a number of jobs before he and his father-in-law opened Tacontento.

"I worked cutting lawns, in factories, construction sites and in kitchens," said Cuevas. Cuevas and his father-in-law, who has worked in the food industry for around 20 years, often spoke about opening a food truck. However, it wasn't until Cuevas was out of work that the two decided to take the plunge and open up a taco truck.

Like most food truck owners, Cuevas is hopeful for the future of his business: "We've always had this vision of opening up a restaurant."



By Monica Salazar
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