With Gwinnett being a community so rich in diversity, we are very fortunate to have local owners that bring recipes from all over the world.
We sat down for a Q&A with Roberto Correa for our next Local Love feature. Roberto Correa is the owner of Beto's Tacos located in Suwanee and Lawrenceville, with a third location opening soon. Nicknamed "Beto" by his parents, Roberto has been serving tacos to hungry Gwinnettians since 2019. He is experienced in Mexican cuisine and hospitality and has an appetite to never stop perfecting his craft. Beto still invests time to travel back to Mexico and other places to build on his culinary education. Guests benefit from his research and experiences as they have a vast menu of items to choose from. Fun fact, all ingredients are delivered or made fresh daily, you won't find a freezer or microwave on site, which is very important to Beto.
The Beto’s Taco menu specializes in authentic Mexican street tacos, just like the individual taco stands you would find on the streets of Mexico today. A couple of items you will find on the Beto’s menu are street sandwiches like the Chorizo, Nopalazo Sandals which is grilled cactus underneath a variety of toppings, and Beto's Potatoes which is steak fries topped with Mexican sausage and queso (trust me, it is amazing). Read more about Beto and how he got started below.
Q: How did your business get started?
A: "I started cooking at a young age but my professional career began by working in Las Vegas, Nevada as a chef for nationally recognized companies like IHG, MGM Sheraton Hotels, Crowne Plaza, Marriott Hotels, and Chipotle. I had the great opportunity to move to Atlanta, Georgia 22 years ago and explored and immersed myself in the variety of southern flavors. I'm very passionate about finding and trying new types of flavors so I funded my first company. I called it Fusion Catering of Atlanta because it was a mix of a lot of different cuisines influences. Fusion grew successful in a short time because I created different dishes with Latino influence, southern cuisine, and other flavors around the world – we moved quickly and were catering events up to 30 events a week! It was a great experience but I felt that I was missing something in my life and it was the opportunity to express my ethnicity because I see that many Mexican restaurants in the Atlanta area offer Mexican food but are more oriented to Tex-Mex style, very different from my ethnicity as a Mexican.
I started thinking why not take the opportunity to share my childhood experience with my customers at Fusion so I started to make some different tacos to add to my catering menu. Very quickly my customers started to love Beto's tacos food because the fresh salsas and ingredients we make every day. The catering business started to change and people requested Beto's Tacos catering more and more that I knew it was time to make the transition from catering to a restaurant. In the beginning, it was not easy because some people did not want to take the risk to taste authentic tacos since the ingredients were what they were used to. Now we serve over 20 different types of street tacos."
Q: How does your ethnic background play a part in your business?
A: "It is very important because I wanted to share a piece of my life when I ate tacos on the taco stands in the street of Mexico, when I saw my mom cook at home or when I saw one woman make fresh tortillas with her bare hands at the local market in Mexico. Eating a variety of fresh tacos with these tortillas was the greatest experience in my life that will never forget. So I want to share all these great experiences with my customers. When I opened my first restaurant in Georgia, I decided to maintain a very open atmosphere, particularly including the kitchen, so customers could be a part of the experience. I want people to see us cook and prepare. I want people to see their food cooking and smell it at the same time as the taco stands in Mexico. I want people to see their food cooking and smell it at the same time, just like you would passing the infinite outdoor taco stands in Mexico. But most importantly, I want them to feel and taste the love at Betos´s with the first bite of tacos and the passion my team and I put into preparing each taco.”
Q: What struggles have you faced?
A: "Outside the normal struggles of owning a business and thriving in the food industry, educating Georgians on what real Mexican flavors are was challenging in the beginning. Most people are accustomed to Tex Mex flavors so when first trying our food, they often compared it to what they were used to. Tex Mex and traditional Mexican flavors are very different! We are proud to only use fresh, non-processed ingredients! For example, our refried beans are made fresh daily and do not come out of a can, our seasonings are not premixed, daily we make our own fresh salsas and all adobos we make are from fresh chiles. I always remember when we made our salsas at my mom's because she is my first mentor in my life in all these recipes."
Q: What advice would you give to others wanting to start their own business?
A: "The best advice I can give to someone is to love what you do, always put your customers first, and money isn’t everything! The secret to a successful business is keeping the love for the things you do, spice all things with passion and enthusiasm, never give up on your dreams, and share all your passion with the team around you. And a very important part is to be humble. We need to listen to our customers every day, our staff members, and people around your business because we need all the feedback from all these people to help improve our business every day. You have to make sure you create an environment that welcomes people of all ages, nationalities, and backgrounds. I would also like to pass along that business owners should focus on building long-lasting, genuine relationships with their clients and team. It’s all about people's experience, make sure each experience is better than the last. Show your customers the wow factor of you and your business!"
Q: What is your favorite part about your job? what is the hardest part?
A: "My favorite part of my job is making people happy through my food. There's nothing better than seeing and hearing the joy my food brings to my customers. Although I am very busy, I enjoy my daily duties and just being able to come in for “work.” It surprises a lot of people when they learn that although I own the business, I still help at my restaurants where I’m needed whether that means I’m running food out, helping take orders, cooking, or prepping.
"The hardest part of my job is finding the right people to be a part of my work family. I am very passionate about what I do and I love working alongside passionate people who also love what they do so finding people who put our customers first, buy into our work culture, and truly enjoy their daily duties is difficult. I’ve been very lucky to have the team that I have and I only hope to continue growing our work family!"
Q: What goals do you have for Beto's Tacos?
A: "My goal is to continue making people happy through my food, educating people about my culture, inspiring other people in my team and those around me, and helping business owners to reach their dreams and goals because nothing is impossible and too difficult if you work with passion and love what you do not for the paycheck, but to give the best time and dedication to your project. Work in all small details no matter what and you can make happen if you always use this recipe you will reach your goals in your life. One of my big dreams is to hopefully one day be nationally recognized and to be able to stand alongside, shoulder to shoulder with large corporate brands. I don’t see a lot of Latinos in that spectrum so my goal is to make it there so that people in my community have someone to look up to and learn from."
Be sure to visit Roberto at Beto's Tacos and say hi! Do you know of any other minority, LGBTQ, or woman-owned businesses? Comment below, we would love to feature them.
Explore Gwinnett continues to make an effort to promote local minority-owned, LGBTQ, and women-owned businesses. To support this initiative, we are writing blogs focusing on owners and telling their stories. Click here to read more Local Love stories.