THE VALUE OF EDUCATION

There was a time when an education represented in most instances the ticket to economic success. Unfortunately, no longer the case. Not as much a certainty.

It was for me. It was for Steve Thompson.

Steve knows and openly admits it.

When I got out of the Air Force, I enrolled in Seattle Community College in accounting.

There was a taco stand in Seattle called the Outrageous Taco Co. It was a small storefront in the University District. They expanded all over the city in the next two years. I went there dozens of times and studied the whole operation.

A large corn tortilla on a flat grill with all the fixings and sour cream on top. You could watch the whole process right in front of you.

Not only did I think it was the best thing I ever ate, I thought I could run that operation myself. That’s how clueless I was. A couple of years of Accounting in Junior College and way too much confidence.

My twin brother invited me to Fort Lauderdale and that was all it took.

My girl friend and I hitchhiked to Florida. That was 1971 and the last time in my life I ever hitchhiked anywhere.

My folks suggested I go to work for a restaurant before investing in one. That turned into the best advice of my life. I went to work for Taco Viva in Fort Lauderdale for $1.62 an hour. Not only was that job extremely physical and mental, I realized immediately I knew nothing about the restaurant business. 

After six months of hard labor and sleeping on my brother’s couch, I went to work for the first disco on Fort Lauderdale Beach. It was called the Village Zoo. It was a whole new world for me. Bell bottom pants and celebrities. I served Alice Cooper, Della Reese, Joe Namath, Jerry Lee Lewis, and met dozens of really neat people.

I kept hearing about Key West and how laid back it was. After a year at the Zoo, I had enough saved up to open my own taco stand. Or, so I thought.

A couple of trips to Key West and I found a location on the 200 block of Duval. 

My good friend Dave Moran who I met in Lauderdale came down to help me. I had no idea he was a master carpenter and I owe everything to him.

A lot of help from friends like Dave and a lot of luck and I got open in March 1974.

After years of planning to get open, I could not accept that from now on life was just one taco after another. That was the day I realized I had to keep opening stores or I’m going to go nuts.

And finally, all those accounting classes started paying off. The second store was in Gainesville across from the University, 500 miles away. The third was in Cocoa Beach, 350 miles north. The next three were in Key West: 501 Duval, Sloppy Joe’s, and Key Plaza Shopping Center. The last two were Satellite Beach and Merritt Island next to Cocoa Beach.

In 1981, I married Cindy the love of my life. We immediately had two lovely daughters and I realized right then and there, this is the only really important thing I will do in my life. 

One at a time, the stores disappeared as the rent went through the roof. Cocoa Beach was the last to close in 1996.

The Gainesville store is still operating under the name Burrito Brothers. It’s across from the University of Florida football stadium, The Swamp.

One thing I realized after 50 years in business, the fun is in creating, not maintaining. 

The Democrats have sealed control of the Senate with the win in Nevada. The win small, less that 1/2 point. Whatever, a win is a win.

The Democrats now 50 seats. Republicans, 49. The Georgia run off next month. Regardless of who wins, the Democrats will retain control because of the Vice-President’s vote.

Despondency is upon me. Syracuse lost again last night. Blown away by Florida State 38-3.

After winning the first 6 games, Syracuse has lost the last 4. The second half of the season has been a slow death.

Enjoy your Sunday!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.