The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

California Tacos moves down Water Street

Mexican eatery relocates to a larger space with new items extended hours, just a short walk from its previous location
Photo by Isabella Matczak
The building at 329 Water St. that formerly housed Burrachos and Fast Fuel is now the new home of California Tacos

California Tacos, an authentic Mexican restaurant located in Eau Claire, recently moved from their previous location at 628 Water St. to a different building at 329 Water St. Their grand opening took place on Friday, March 22.

The main reason for the move was the need for a larger space, according to Rosina Llamas, one of the owners of California Tacos.

“Here, there is more space for the customers, which means we get more customers,” Llamas said. “We are always happy and thank them, hoping that they come back once they taste our food.”

Stephanie and Natalie Velasquez are the daughters of Rosina Llamas and two of seven children. According to them, the business was started by their dad, Noe Velasquez.

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“Growing up, he worked in construction, but on the side, he always loved to cook, have barbecues and do catering,” Stephanie Velasquez said. “We ended up moving from California to Wisconsin 12 years ago. The catering started to pick up, so he purchased a food truck.”

At first, they mainly operated their food truck out of Whitehall, Wisconsin according to Stephanie Velasquez. Sometimes they would only have one or two customers per day.

The business found the opportunity in 2020 to park their truck outside a Menards in Eau Claire for over a year, but that location did not make them noticeable enough, according to Natalie Velasquez.

In 2021, Natalie Velasquez said they rented out a lot on Bracket Avenue in Eau Claire. It was a busy street with a lot of potential customers, and soon Natalie and Noe Velasquez couldn’t keep up by themselves. 

“It was really rough at first, but a lot of advertising and word-of-mouth helped us,” Stephanie Velasquez said.

California Tacos settled into their former 628 Water St. spot in January 2023. 

“We received so much love from all our customers when they would come. It was for take-out only at first, yet we were so busy and we loved it,” Natalie Velasquez said. “Eventually we purchased some used tables for people to dine, but there just wasn’t enough space.”

Just over one year later, the business announced their upcoming move

There was a financial debate about this, according to Stephanie Velasquez. They questioned whether they should remain at their previous location for another year before looking for a bigger space. Her dad, however, insisted they just push through and hope everything goes well.

“My dad really pushes all of us,” Stephanie Velasquez said. “We started from the bottom, moved from California to Wisconsin and made our way up. At the end of the day, all you have is your family. Everyone’s going to have different opinions, but you just have to work together and keep moving.”

As well as providing more indoor seating for customers, their current building also has outdoor seating within a fenced-in patio. According to Stephanie Velasquez, they have also added about five more items to their menu and hope to start serving breakfast soon.

Another change is their expanded hours, now open from 11 a.m.-6 p.m. on Sunday, 11 a.m.-8 p.m. Monday through Wednesday and 11 a.m.-2 a.m. Thursday through Saturday.

California Tacos’ relocation celebration on Friday, March 22 landed on Noe Velasquez’s birthday, so his family and coworkers surprised him with a live mariachi band. Customers were able to listen while enjoying the authentic cuisine in their new space.

“My dad still does a lot of everything; he’s always prepping and training the new hires,” Stephanie Velasquez said. “He started with only one other worker, and now we have about seven more, not including my siblings and I. We all kind of pitch in and help out.”

According to Natalie Velasquez, their opening at 329 Water St. was a day they will never forget. The customers and friends who showed up were a reminder of why they started, why they work so hard and why they love what they do.

“The community is the reason we are where we are, and we appreciate every single person that has supported us. Eau Claire is a beautiful place with amazing people, and we can’t wait to see what the future has for us here,” Natalie Velasquez said.

Matczak can be reached at [email protected].

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