Owners of popular Grand Ledge food truck, Pancho’s Taqueria, to open restaurant

Rachel Greco
Lansing State Journal

DELTA TWP. - Francisco Gutierrez serves his customers the recipes he grew up eating.

Three years ago when he opened his own food truck in Grand Ledge the tacos, tamales, quesadillas and tostadas created from the small, mobile space were dishes he'd first tasted as a child in Tamaulipas, Mexico.  

From the parking lot of Sanctuary Spirits on East Saginaw Highway, the Gutierrez family has created a popular go-to spot for authentic Mexican food in the Eaton County community.

The food is made to order, six days a week, from a dark pink food truck known as Pancho’s Taqueria.

“This is, I think, 100% us, my culture and what I grew up on," Francisco Gutierrez said.

Ashley and Francisco Gutierrez spent three years building a customer base in Grand  Ledge at their food truck. Now the couple is opening a restaurant of the same name, Pancho's Taqueria, in Delta Township.

Since it opened, the Gutierrez family has served customers breakfast, lunch and dinner year round, closing only when extreme weather conditions crop up. Francisco Gutierrez, his wife Ashley and son Alex, 17, are all part of the business, along with Francisco Gutierrez's mother and brother.

Now Pancho’s Taqueria is expanding with the opening of a brick and mortar restaurant in Delta Township of the same name.

Francisco Gutierrez, 37, said he's always wanted a sit-down restaurant, and now the new eatery will offer the chance to cultivate a new following on the west side of Lansing.

“If people want to come and enjoy Mexican food, that’s what they’re going to get here,” he said.

Hard work, and community support

The new restaurant, situated on Elmwood Road just across from the Lansing Mall, opened Friday.

Francisco Gutierrez, co-owner of Pancho's Taqueria, talks with a customer Thursday, June 9, 2016 in Grand Ledge.

Formerly home to Oade's Bar & Grill, which closed its doors last June, the 2,200-square-foot space offers seating for close to 70 people in the newly-renovated dining room. 

The Gutierrez family left the restaurant's brick walls, and incorporated the rich, dark pink color that their Grand Ledge food truck sports.

It’s been transformed into a family-friendly, bright space. Shelves filled with decorations and a family photo are up against one wall of the dining room.

“If you look around, we have a family picture from my daughter’s Quinceañera," Ashley Gutierrez said. "We have decorations you would find in (Francisco's) grandma’s house."

A colorful mural covers an entire wall in the new dining room, created by Lansing artist Domingo Gamboa. It features a rendering of the Grand Ledge truck.

“That’s what we’re known for, our pink food truck,” Ashley Gutierrez said.

Francisco Gutierrez, a Grand Ledge resident who came to the U.S. in 1992, said they owe their success to hard work — and a supportive community.

He worked in the food industry for a decade before striking out on his own. The food truck found a home in the distillery's parking lot on East Saginaw Highway, and Grand Ledge residents have embraced the business.

Right off the bat it took off,” Francisco Gutierrez said. “For the first month, I myself was working 16-, 17-hour days."

“For the first three months we were up until two or three in the morning cooking food because we had no idea how popular it was going to be,” Ashley Gutierrez said. “We can’t say thank you enough to our community in Grand Ledge for the support that they’ve given us."

A sit-down spot

At Pancho’s Taqueria there’s no such thing as “taco seasoning,” Francisco Gutierrez said.

“There’s nothing canned or that’s not homemade,” Ashley Gutierrez said.

Ashley and Francisco Gutierrez spent three years building a customer base in Grand  Ledge at their food truck. Now the couple is opening a restaurant of the same name, Pancho's Taqueria, in Delta Township.

Everything on the menu at their food truck will be offered at the new restaurant. It includes a good mix of beef, steak, chicken and pork dishes that are made to order with a blend of spices created in-house.

About a dozen new dishes have been added to the menu, including more breakfast items like huevos rancheros.

The Grand Ledge food truck will stay open.

“The truck’s doing well, so why shut it down?” Francisco Gutierrez said.

The Delta Township restaurant offers the Gutierrez family a chance, said Ashley, to introduce their food to new customers.

“People from Delta Township, Lansing can come to this place,” she said. "It offers a place to have a sit-down meal. We're excited."

Want to go?

Pancho’s Taqueria's new Delta Township location is located at 936 Elmwood Road. It's open from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Thursday and from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Friday and Saturday.  It is closed Sunday.

Pancho’s Taqueria's Grand Ledge food truck is located in the parking lot of Sanctuary Spirits at 902 E. Saginaw Highway. It's open from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Saturday. It is closed Sunday. Find them on Facebook at Pancho’s Taqueria.


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Contact Rachel Greco at rgreco@lsj.com. Follow her on Twitter @GrecoatLSJ.