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End of the road

Marquette food truck to close after 100-day tour

Owner od Dia De Los Tacos Mike Walker holds a Yeti taco, a quesadilla wrapped around a taco with beans, chicken, poblanos, more cheese and slaw. (Photo courtesty of Dia De Los Tacos)

MARQUETTE — The famous blue taco truck beloved by Yoopers in the snow or sun is selling tacos for just one more summer.

Dia de los Tacos announced its 100-day farewell tour on Facebook June 21. The truck’s final tacos are to be sold at the end of September.

Owner Mike Walker believes he has accomplished all he set out to do when he first opened the truck up for service six years ago and is looking forward to new endeavors, he said.

“I just really want to try some new things,” Walker said. “I’ve been doing this a while, been working in kitchens and restaurants since I was 15 and an opportunity came up to work at Snowbound Books, and I like books as much as I like food, so I wanted to explore that opportunity. I’m not getting any younger. Deep-knee bends into the reach-in cooler can get a little more strenuous now that I’m in my 40s, so it’s time to do something new.”

Walker has always been passionate about books and watched his brother pursue a similar interest in selling records during their youth. Now it’s his turn, he said.

“I never took my turn breaking into that scene,” Walker said. “I got my first job washing dishes, and one thing led to another, so having this come up now makes me feel like I’m a teenager. I get to do something totally new.”

The decision to open a food truck came when Walker lost his job with the closing of Upfront & Company, a former nightclub in Marquette. His grandmother passed shortly afterward and left him a small sum of money. He thought, what can I do?

“It wasn’t the kind of money where I could buy a brick-and-mortar, but I had been out in Portland and food trucks are a big thing out there, so I thought maybe I’ll try doing a food truck and I could hire a few of the people who worked at Upfront and try to make the best out of that situation,” Walker said.

He found a truck just outside of Appleton, Wisconsin, and headed out, but just 90 minutes into his drive home, the truck’s engine blew. He bought the truck and replaced the engine the same day.

“It’s been like a punch-drunk prize fighter just getting this thing going,” Walker said. “But here we are six years later, still doing it.”

Why tacos?

“I love tacos. It’s really as simple as that,” Walker said. “I have celiac disease, a gluten intolerance, and Mexican food is naturally friendly to that, so it was important to me to be able to make some food that I could actually eat.”

What Walker has loved most about running Dia de los Tacos is watching local kids grow up eating his food.

“There’s some kids who just graduated high school that I was selling tacos to when they were in 6th grade then they’ve been coming the whole time,” he said. “I think about when I was growing up here, I grew up at Togo’s. I went into Togo’s three times a week my whole young life, so I think that’s a pretty cool anecdote in my brain.”

He’s also grateful for the steady support from locals over the years. There’s been frigid winter days when Walker himself wouldn’t have gone out for food, but still, the community ventured out to find the blue truck amidst all the snow.

“Thank you, first and foremost. This has been an outrageously supportive community for us,” Walker said. “It’s been unbelievable thinking about how we’ve had some of the coldest winters on record in the last six years, and people were still coming out. I mean, that’s a testament to how tough Yoopers are, but also how much people appreciated our food. It’s really difficult to put into words what that means. It’s always been really flattering.”

The truck’s generator went out just three days after announcing the final tour, so tacos are being sold inside the Ore Dock for the time being, but the plan is to get back on the road as soon as possible.

“I’m grateful for the people going the extra mile to figure out that our schedule changed and we’re somewhere else,” Walker said. “We’ll be back. We’re going to do this the right way and I hope that people are going to come out and have another taco.”

Once repaired, the truck will resume its regular schedule.

Visit Dia de los Tacos on Facebook for times and locations daily.

Trinity Carey can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 243. Her email address is photos@miningjournal.net.