“There is help available, and from good people. Northern Initiatives brought technical, financial, and marketing tools to my business. I intend to share what I have learned with other small businesses in Battle Creek. We need to support each other.” – Javier Fortoso, owner
With the mission to provide delicious, authentic Mexican food in Battle Creek, MI, Javier Fortoso and his family opened Torti Taco in 2016. Torti Taco offers real Mexican food made from scratch with fresh veggies, meat, and homemade sauces that blend special family recipes from Cuernavaca, Mexico and San Diego, California.
The homemade salsas and in-store salsa bar bring rave reviews. The bar features fresh salsa choices including chipotle, strawberry, mango, pineapple and chorizo, ranging from mild to over-the-top heat.
Soon after opening Torti Taco, Mr. Fortoso attended a Michigan Good Food Fund Entrepreneurial Bootcamp in Battle Creek. Along with identifying his target market and creating long-term business goals, Mr. Fortoso formed partnerships at the bootcamp with local growers who now provide Torti Taco with fresh produce on a daily basis. By adding 3-4 locally sourced suppliers to his business model, Mr. Fortoso provides stability to other small businesses in Battle Creek, strengthening the local economy.
But like many new small businesses, Torti Taco faced a tough business climate during the winter months. It was during this time, he applied for and received a loan from Northern Initiatives.
Mr. Fortoso used the loan to update equipment, purchase a new cash register system, increase inventory, and support permanent working capital. Torti Taco has added three new positions since the loan disbursement.
In addition to the loan, Northern Initiatives provided a blend of business training. Mr. Fortoso utilized Northern Initiatives’ online customer portal, Initiate, to prepare monthly cash flow projections. And a Business Services Director worked together with Mr. Fortoso to revamp the company’s website.
Mr. Fortoso appreciates that the Northern Initiatives staff continues to be available to him to answer questions that arise. “And I use Northern Initiatives’ online tools to learn about new marketing strategies – something that’s very important to my business’ success.”
Within months of the investment and training by Northern Initiatives, Torti Taco won the Taco Showdown Detroit 2018 contest. in September of 2018, Kalamazoo’s Taco and Tequila Festival announced Torti Taco as the winner.
This new publicity has local customers coming in to try the winning food and has expanded Torti Taco’s target market to include surrounding communities. Additionally, the awards have created an increase on the catering side. Torti Taco has catered events for local entities such as the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, The Battle Creek Community Foundation, and Kellogg Community College, to name a few. These catering opportunities will help sustain Torti Taco through natural seasonal business cycles.
Overall, Mr. Fortoso acknowledges the value Northern Initiatives brought to Torti Taco. “There is help available, and from good people. Northern Initiatives brought technical, financial, and marketing tools to my business. I intend to share what I have learned with other small businesses in Battle Creek. We need to support each other.”
In the meantime, Mr. Fortoso is back in the kitchen answering customer requests by creating some new vegan items for his menu.