From growing up in his parents' Mexican restaurant in Tempe to opening his own chain of restaurants in the Valley, family is at the center of everything for Someburros owner, Tim Vasquez.
Vasquez, who graduated from ASU in 1998 with a degree in communications, is now working to honor his family and give back to the community in a new way: his first book.
“Family is so important to me in every part of my life, so I wanted to have a way to honor my grandmother Isabel and the values she instilled in our family,” Vasquez said.
“The Taco Stand,” released to the public on Monday, is a children’s book focusing on family and food. Vasquez said the narrative follows his grandmother Isabel, a local legend for her tacos, through the decision to turn down an offer from a franchise to make her famous tacos into a business at the expense of time with family.
“It’s a story of family triumphing over the lure of big business,” he said.
Vasquez said he wrote the book about eight years ago on a family trip to Flagstaff with the intention of keeping it as a family heirloom, but after hosting readings in his children’s classes at school for many years, he said he decided to get it published this past spring.
“The word got out I had written this book and so teachers would ask me to come and read it to their class,” Vasquez said. “I would bring tacos and read the book and everyone would love it, so eventually I decided I should get it published.”
No stranger to philanthropy, Vasquez has donated portions of sales from his businesses to Queen Creek High School Marching Band and funded a program to pay for Someburros student-workers' textbooks, adding that “The Taco Stand” will be no exception.
He said he plans to donate a portion of the sales to educational advancement programs at Frank Elementary School in Guadalupe, AZ.
“My family is from Guadalupe, so we have a close connection with Frank Elementary,” Vasquez said. “A lot of kids with humble beginnings have started out there and they don’t have a lot of the same resources kids at other schools have, so I wanted to help them out and do what I can.”
Martha Jacobo-Smith, principal of Frank Elementary, said the proceeds will go toward funding incentives to keep school attendance up such as awarding bikes to students with perfect attendance at the end of the year.
“It’s so important because we can’t do our job in educating our students unless they are in their seats,” Jacobo-Smith said.
Beyond the value of the proceeds Vasquez plans to donate, she said the message of the book is important for her students.
“I think it will be important for our students to see the message in the book about how it doesn’t matter if you have a small table, a large table or you are just sitting together — sharing a meal is a time to be spent together,” she said.
In addition to the familial connections with the school, Vasquez, who played on the ASU baseball team while attending the University, hosts free baseball clinics in Guadalupe for local, underprivileged youth.
“The Taco Stand” was produced by Story Monsters LLC, a Chandler-based publishing company which has been producing, promoting and marketing books since 1985. Linda Radke, president of Story Monsters LLC, said working with Vasquez in publishing his first book was a wonderful experience.
“You learn a lot about a person when you help them produce their first book, and Tim is awesome,” she said. “He always trusted our expertise.”
Radke said she thinks the book will be a great resource for teachers to share in their classrooms and parents to share with their children.
“We learn from example, and I think Tim Vasquez’s family is a great role model for other children to learn from,” she said.
“The Taco Stand” is now available for purchase at Someburros as well as online and on Amazon. Those who purchase at Someburros this week will receive a complimentary dessert, and Vasquez said he plans to sign all of the books bought on “The Taco Stand” website.
Vasquez said having the book published was an “extremely gratifying experience.”
“I’m not a super emotional guy, but I got kind of choked up seeing it for the first time and holding the book in my hand knowing what it meant to me and my family,” he said.
With one book published, Vasquez said he is ready to start working on other ideas he wants to develop.
“Now that I’ve been through it, I want to do it again,” he said. “I love to write, so this is definitely the first of hopefully a few books at least.”