Having worked in food service in Richmond for 10 years, Ricardo Ramírez and his wife Claudia Romero, owners of Comete Alguito food truck, decided it was time for something different in Richmond.
“I had been thinking about (starting a food truck) for two or three years, and last December came around, and I decided it was time to start,” Ramírez said.
He said when he started thinking of what food he wanted to serve, he thought about the food from back home in Colombia.
“I had been working in Mexican and Italian (restaurants), but I am from Colombia, so I said, ‘Everybody knows about tacos and burritos, but I don’t know if they know about an arepa or empanada, and I was like I don't know, but why not,’” he recalled.
And now, almost seven months later, the husband and wife duo are the only location in the state serving Colombian street food.
“That was one of the many reasons, because before starting the business, when we wanted to get Colombian food, we had to go to Cincinnati or Tennessee,” he said.
Despite opening their dream food truck in the midst of a pandemic, the couple said the support they received from the community was overwhelming.
“If someone had already told us about this happening, we probably would not have started, but we were right in the middle of everything,” he said. “The good thing is they did not order us to close, businesses like this.”
His wife agreed, explaining food trucks are essentially already up to coronavirus regulations with the physical barrier between themselves and the customers, and operate as to-go, curbside and delivery.
“We can’t complain, people love the arepas, the empanadas, and we are continuing to grow and add more things to the menu and make more, but it is doing amazing,” Ramírez said. “It is better than I could have dreamed.”
One reason they claim to have such success is the launching of the Facebook group Madison County Foodies, which was created to help local businesses during the pandemic by promoting businesses in the county.
“Madison Foodies helped us a lot,” Romero said. “We get a lot of good reviews here, people come from having seen us there … Honestly I feel the love, Richmond. We can see how much people are supporting local.”
It’s not just the customers who are showing love, as Romero and Ramírez said everything they do with the new business is done with affection and care. Romero, who is also an artist, said just like with the food or painting, she tries to represent herself and her passion through what she does.
She told The Register she wants people to feel her life and her love of art, just like the food, as it is a part of who she is.
“You can feel when you cook with love, you can taste the difference,” she said. “Everything we do, we do with love,” she said.
This includes the physical truck itself, which, on the inside, has the appearance of a farm style kitchen.
“Usually trailers are metal, cold and plain, but when I talked with my husband, I said ‘No, I want something different. I want to bring a home-style kitchen on wheels,’” she said. “This is the idea in my mind, when you feel like home, it is so much better.”
She said when they dream of opening a restaurant, the idea would remain the same.
In reference to the outside of the truck and its design, Romero said it is a food truck for the people.
“I didn't do the Hispanic colors of red, yellow and blue because I want American people to feel like they are welcome here too,” she said. “It is a food truck for everyone.”
But both Romero and Ramírez said they are enjoying the experience.
“If you enjoy the experience, it will show in your food,” her husband said. “It is so different when you go to eat somewhere, no one cares about the food or the people, but when it is like us, as a husband and wife, we care so much about what people are thinking. You can feel the difference.”
“My husband and I have really enjoyed the journey,” Romero added. “Sometimes there is good and bad, slow days and fast days, which is like life, somedays you laugh, and some you cry.”
Comete Alguito is open from noon to 8 p.m. daily and is typically located at 100 W. Water St. in Richmond. It can be contacted at 859-382-4946. For more information and updates on locations and hours, visit its Facebook page at cometealguito.ky.