Kaeli Robinsong and Jason Sussman were tree planters who moved to Tofino for the surfing, and a new start.
By Lawrence Herzog
Inspired by their winter travels to Mexico, the couple and a friend bought a food truck, named it Tacofino Cantina, and began selling Baja-inspired fare from a gravel parking lot.
Their passion for quality, freshness and affordably priced food, served with an environmental and nutritional conscience, quickly helped to build a loyal following. In just five years, their one little bright orange food truck became two, three, then four, and a restaurant commissary that is open year-round.
Tacofino’s “fast slow food,” served from trucks in Tofino, Vancouver and Victoria, has earned the venture an enthusiastic audience for some of the best fish tacos in BC. The menu also includes burritos, tortilla soup, tuna ta-tacos, and local seasonal specials like roasted squash tacos, Baja-style trap-caught spot prawn tacos and wild mushroom quesadillas.
“We’ve been getting inspired by Japanese and Vietnamese flavours, and moving away from strictly traditional Mexican cooking,” Robinsong explains. “But still with our commitment to quality and fresh product, made from scratch.”
To source the best ingredients at affordable prices, Tacofino builds long-term relationships with local suppliers – like fabulous tortillas from a tortilleria in Burnaby and line-caught ling cod for fish tacos. The food trucks are distinctive and eye-catching, inspired by Vancouver Island artist Lee Robinsong’s painting of the Virgin de Guadalupe holding a taco that adorned the original Tofino truck.
“We have a really great local customer base, and we keep them happy with consistency and fresh specials that help generate interest,” she says. “Their loyalty helped us stay open through the winter in Tofino for the first time, and it went really well.”
Tacofino’s top tips
Keep your menu small, and focus on doing what you do well. Resist the urge to be everything to everybody.
Choose your signature items carefully with an eye to consistency and cost control. You’ve got to be able to sell them at a profit but keep your prices low enough to move volume.
Be authentic. Just make food that you really love and you believe in, and your passion will shine through.
Use the freshest, best ingredients you can source. Get to know your suppliers and cultivate long-term relationships with them.