Ten years of tacos a cause for celebration

Gerry Torres opened his first City Tacos shop in 2014.

Chula Vista resident Gerry Torres, the owner of City Tacos, is celebrating 10 years of business in San Diego County, founding his first restaurant in North Park on May 5, 2014.

Now, with seven locations, Torres is planning his 10th anniversary with specials across all City Tacos throughout May, created a 10-year anniversary logo, and has plans to finally bring something special home for the Chula Vista community. But it might not be the obvious City Taco brand.

Torres lives in Eastlake but growing up he went to high school while living in Bonita and spent 30 years living in the Chula Vista area.

Torres said when he opened the first site in North Park, they kept selling out for the first couple of weeks, and that trend has never stopped.

“The first day we sold out in about two hours, then three hours, four hours, and we would double up production every day after that,” he said. “We got to the point where we did not sell out anymore, but it was crazy. I saw such a great demand for our product. People really enjoyed what we did, and then started opening more locations responsibly.”
Torres opened a new location almost every year for the past 10 years.

Torres said he believes the secret to City Tacos is that it separates itself from the rest of the taco shops.

“We paid extra attention to changing the perception of what was available back when we opened,” he said. “Most of the taco shops had the same basic product. They had the three main proteins, pastor, chicken, and asada, and they prepared it 20 different ways. Whether it was a tostado, burrito, or taco, it was basically the same ingredients, just presented differently. You got more of the same type of taste all the time.”

Torres said he started with four tacos that did not look or sound like other tacos, and it was an intentional move.

“I am from Mexico City, my chef is from Mexico City, and we wanted to do something different. We wanted to highlight Mexican cuisine and what it could be, not necessarily what it was at that time,” he said. “The original four were the mahi, the Borrego, instead of carne asado, Pollo City, and the chili relleno, then we added a portabella mushroom taco. We have now expanded our menus to include about 20 different tacos. All we do is tacos. We like to have variety and we like to have something for everyone.”

Torres said another secret to its success is keeping in mind the value, quality, and service.

“That is what the company was founded on,” he said. “I do mass purchasing through a commissary kitchen, which allows me to bring my food costs down and pass it along to the consumers. We started in a fast, casual format in a taqueria, and we actually offered service, which is very different from everybody else. We will gladly take the trash off your hands. We make sure everything is clean and tidy. And we make sure that you are taken care of as if you were eating at home.”

Torres said 10 years is a big milestone.

“We are very proud that we have reached this milestone, and it is a commitment on our part for continuous improvement. We are blessed to have the same core employees who we have had for a great number of years. So, the family keeps on growing, and we are doing it responsibly,” he said, adding that on average, City Tacos employs around 50 to 60 employees.

Torres said he is looking to bring something down to South Bay, but he is looking to do something different.

“I am interested in Mediterranean food,” he said. “So, I might be doing a little tapas restaurant in Chula Vista. The name would be City Tapas. That is Spanish lifestyle. The Spanish, Europeans, they find ways to enjoy life a bit more than we do here in the States. The tapas culture is about gathering with friends and enjoying good food and good drink in a wholesome environment. That culture is alive and well, and people have changed their lives around to fit that lifestyle. They will take a midday nap so they can stay out at night and enjoy their friends and family. I like that. We as humans need to find creative ways to enjoy life day by day.”