Hispanic Heritage Month: North Alabama tamale truck a family affair

single-meta-cal October 15, 2021

In honor of National Hispanic Heritage Month, the City of Huntsville is highlighting the work of volunteers, leaders and organizations that have made a significant impact on the City’s Hispanic/Latino populations.

Before Teresita’s Tamales became the first tamale truck in North Alabama, it was a humble venture for a family looking to make ends meet.

woman in orange blouse stands in front of food truck

Yesenia Stark (above) owns a local food truck, Teresita’s Tamales, with her sister, Jessica Sanchez.

“My dad would go around and sell my mother Teresita’s tamales and Mexican street corn out of his car at various Hispanic restaurants around town as well as at construction sites,” said Yesenia Stark, who co-owns the business with sibling Jessica Sanchez. “After years of talking about starting a business, we finally decided to make it happen during COVID in 2020 and began working towards opening the food truck.”

During National Hispanic Heritage Month, Stark took time to talk about her family’s homegrown business, what it means to be a Hispanic business owner and her dreams for the Huntsville area. The monthlong celebration, which ends Oct. 15, is held annually to recognize the achievements and contributions of Hispanic American champions who have inspired others to achieve success.

What does it mean to be a Hispanic business owner in Huntsville?

Stark: It is an exciting time to be a small business owner and an even more exciting time to be a Hispanic-owned business. We strive to provide authentic Mexican dishes, which means it has been a little bit of a struggle to market a tamale or even some of our other dishes. We have many who will tell us well we have never had a tamale or an elote (Mexican street corn).

What are the benefits and challenges?

Teresita's Tamales food truck with menu board

Since opening in May 2021, Teresita’s Tamales has quickly gained a loyal following for authentic Mexican fare.

Huntsville is rapidly growing, which means there are people moving here from all over. Being able to be part of such a growing community has definitely been a benefit. I personally think Hispanic-owned businesses are a little behind on things given they have to build it from the ground up, often struggling to obtain a loan, not understanding the laws and guidelines, and not knowing who to go to for help setting up a business plan. Of course, these are areas any small business owner starting out has, but I believe Hispanic-owned businesses struggle with this more.

Why is it important to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month?

Hispanics are part of the American national life and have played and continue to play a part in building a better United States of America and a better Huntsville, Alabama. Hispanic voices and dreams are important and celebrating Hispanic successes are just as important. We grew up in Huntsville and have the desire to share our Hispanic roots and culture with not only our children but with our community as well.

Are you happy to be part of this community? In what ways do you see your business growing in the future?

I’m so excited to be part of this community. I’m originally from Mexico City but have lived here since I was seven and grew up in the area. To now be part of not just the Hispanic community but small business community means so much to me and my family. We of course have dreams of where the business can go. At the top of our list is to purchase some land and have a brick and mortar store with a kitchen that we can run several food trucks out of and serve not only Huntsville but the surrounding areas in North Alabama.