When Anna Gonzalez was laid off as the manager of a local rental car agency, she gained the freedom to pursue her dream—buying a food truck and making tacos and burgers. After raising four children and working in offices for 25 years, she made the decision at 50-years-old to start over.
It's been a year, and now that the kinks are worked out, Anna's Healthy Homestyle Kitchen is making a move from the Lorton/Newington area to Tysons Corner.
Gonzalez, who lives in Woodbridge, spoke with Patch about her business on Wednesday along Fullerton Road. She serves "food for the soul," which comes in the form of spicy chicken tacos, bison burgers and hot beef sausages. The meals range from $5.50 to $8, and while Gonzalez would like to operate in the District, her 22-foot Grumman Olson Step Van is four feet too long.
Patch: How's business?
Gonzalez: It's slow, but business is slow when it's hot. My best seasons have been the fall and the spring. I think the economy makes people watch what they spend, and I'm competing with the McDonald's dollar menu.
Patch: Where did you learn to cook?
Gonzales: My husband, Jose Gonzales, was from Guatemala, and when he was alive he cooked for the family. That's really what got me interested in Spanish food. I have four kids and cooked for all of them, and whenever there's a family gathering we have it at my house. I'm a foodie and love all kinds of food and will try anything, and, here, you'll get amazing home-cooked food for a very reasonable price.
Patch: What's your biggest challenge?
Gonzales: The most important thing is finding the right location. I'm not going to venture too far from home, but I think Tyson's is the place for me. You have a lot of corporate types who go out to eat for lunch. We tried it out last week and business was great.
Also, cooking in your kitchen at home is so much different than operating your own truck. You have a line of people waiting for their food, and even though you might not think that it's taking very long for the food to come out, they might think it is.
Patch: What's it like pursuing your dream?
Gonzalez: It's scary. You have to think of every aspect. What's my plan for tomorrow? Will I make any money? Fairfax County isn't like California or Texas, where everyone knows about food trucks. Sometimes people look at you like you're a gypsy.
But it's true, not a lot of people chase their dream, and we'll see how this works. I sat at a desk for more than 20 years, and I finally realized that there has to be more to life than that.
You can follow Anna Gonzalez and her food truck on Twitter.