For three years, Jesus Vasquez Garcia has been wanting to open his own restaurant on 425 E. Wooster St.
Three years ago, he drove by and saw the space was up for sale.
But due to external factors that postponed his plans, most recently the government-mandated statewide lockdown last March due to the coronavirus pandemic, his goal of serving up homemade meals in Bowling Green were put on hold.
Finally, Garcia was able to open Lupita Mexican Taqueria on March 20. He said late March was an opportune time to do so because the governor began lifting restrictions and more people were getting vaccinated.
He owns Lupita alongside his business partner Andres Garcia. They also co-own a drywall and painting company together, providing their services in Ohio and Indiana, so they’ve kept busy with other business ventures while waiting to open Lupita.
In the restaurant industry specifically, Garcia has cooked and served food at businesses in Columbus, Huron and many other locations in and around Ohio.
His travels have taken him from Mexico City to Ohio, where he decided to settle in Bowling Green, a city he’s lived in for almost 13 years.
“I love Bowling Green. I’ve lived here for a long time, my kids go to school around here,” he said. “It’s why I’ve been here for the last 13 years … and I wanting to keep making food for the local people.”
While he’s held a variety of jobs, Garcia’s expertise — and love — lies in cooking the homemade recipes he’s been eating since he grew up in Mexico City.
“I know what I do, and I’ve done it for years. That is why I want to cook for here,” he said.
Garcia specifically highlighted his chorizo, which he makes from a family recipe created by his grandmother.
He serves this chorizo — and many more meats — tucked into tacos, wrapped up in burritos and spread on sopes.
Garcia described his tacos as “closer to Mexico City tacos,” because of the unique blend of spices used.
The most expensive menu items cap off at around $10, and it’s reasonably priced, good food like this that makes Lupita perfect for a college town.
“We are right next to the college, and on weekends there’s a lot of people walking around and there’s not too many places open (late at night), and so I decided to open my own,” he said.
Sitting just off East Wooster Street, Lupita can be a stop on nighttime strolls downtown, and for college students hungry after a night out.
He sees his relationship with customers as, “You help me, I help you.”
“I don’t want to give them crazy prices for a burrito. They help me and I want to give them food that fills them up.”
Since Garcia opened during a pandemic, he’s had to properly distance tables inside and require masks for all customers entering the restaurant. He estimated about 90% of orders are carryout, but he’s had a consistent stream of a few groups dining in and enjoying the space and food throughout the day.
When more restrictions are lifted, more people are vaccinated and a sense of normalcy returns, Garcia hopes his business will thrive and he can introduce new people to his homecooked recipes.
He touched on the possibility of moving to a larger space too, when the time is right.
No matter where he takes his business, Garcia’s love for cooking is something that will remain at the core of it.
“It’s what I do, it’s what I know, it’s what I love,” he said.
Lupita Mexican Taqueria is open at 11 a.m. every day of the week except Monday. They close at 9 p.m. Tuesday to Thursday, midnight on Friday, 2 a.m. on Saturday and 8 p.m. on Sunday.