ELMER CITY – About five years ago, Colville tribal member Hank Wilson was trying his hand at selling ice cream.
Wilson owned an ice cream truck and operated around the Springfield-Eugene, Oregon area.
Business was good, and he sold lots of ice cream. The issue would come with other competition: food trucks in and around the area became an obstacle.
As he watched the food truck industry grow, the entrepreneur - who had supplemented his ice cream business with a limo/chauffeur company - decided a change was needed.
Wilson turned his business focus to the food industry side.
“I realized that’s a good business,” Wilson said. “When I was selling ice cream, I saw other people selling food, and man, they were killing it. I’m selling ice cream here for $1, $3 and they’re selling $12 meals, and they were making way more.”
The entrepreneur shifted paths.
His new calling would be in the food industry, he decided, and he hit the entrepreneurial planning board: Where would he operate his food truck? Would it be where he had currently lived in the Eugene/Springfield area? Maybe up the road in the food cart capital of the world in Portland?
Back home, on the Colville Reservation he knew there would be hunger for good, quality food.
“If I ever move back home, I want to get a food cart because I think that would be cool to be able to sell food,” he realized, then he decided to act.
“When I was in Oregon I had my other business and I sold them,” he said. “I had two limos in Oregon, it was fun.”
Wilson packed up after living in Oregon and moved back home, 8 hours away back in Coulee Dam.
In his first year back home, Wilson catered events in the Grand Coulee Dam and Nespelem Area.
But back at the entrepreneurial drawing board he decided to take another risk.
In early October 2020 – with the COVID-19 pandemic changing how people eat out - Wilson opened what would come to be known as ‘Taco Tribe,” a food cart primarily selling street style tacos.
He knew the cart would definitely feature his girlfriend’s street tacos to start.
He also knew of a perfect location.
Wilson has found a home for his food cart in an ideal and busy spot.
If your driving through the small town of Elmer City, you’ll see a big red food cart parked in the lot at the old Tillman’s store in the middle of town, you can’t miss it.
Wilson and the property owner, Matt Tillman, went to school together up the road at the Grand Coulee Dam School district. After building their friendship years ago, they now continue to lend a hand to one another.
“I asked Matt, ‘Hey, dude. You got the perfect spot. Can I park my food truck there?’ And he said, ‘Yeah, no problem.’”
In their first 3 months of operation, the menu has increased as Taco Tribe sells burgers, bbq/sandwiches, rice bowls and Birri tacos.
Taco Tribe is primarily open on weekends, usually opening up around 4 p.m. and can stay open until 10 p.m. if there is a steady flow of customers.
“We love what we do, we love to cook,” Desiree, Wilson’s girlfriend said.