The Last Customer
On August 4 of 2016, Taqueria Zapotlan opened their doors at 2240 Grand Avenue and made their first dollar. That dollar bill was framed and is displayed proudly on the wall of the authentic Mexican restaurant.
Earlier this summer, the Torres family announced they would be closing the popular restaurant to spend more time helping their father recover from a stroke he suffered in 2018.
Knowing I only had until August 25 to have my favorite shrimp tacos, I made the detour down Grand to pick up a 3-pack at least twice a week. During one stop earlier this month, I promised to buy the last taco before they closed. "We close at 3pm that day but we'll keep serving open until we're sold out," Vanessa Torres said. "Better get here early because it will probably sell out early."
So the final day was today (Sunday). I arrived just before 3pm hoping I may get one last taste of that one-of-a-kind salsa that Maria Torres makes fresh by hand. The same way she and her husband Carlos have done it since they started with a food truck in Sydney, MT.
First thing, I heard one of the Torres kids say when I walked in, "We're all sold out....of everything except shrimp tacos." Just in time. I told him I'd take three to go. Vanessa Torres said everything was pretty much sold out by 1pm. "The line was just crazy," she said. "It was non-stop."
By now, it was 3:10pm. The last customers who had been sitting in the restaurant had left and I was the only one who remained. My to-go order was ready and I was the last customer Taqueria Zapotlan would serve. As I paid my bill, I noticed that FIRST DOLLAR the family had placed on the wall a little more than three years earlier. On top of the tip I left on the debit card, I thought it would be cool to give the LAST dollar bill.
I had no idea how much this would mean to the family. I wasn't 20 feet out the door when one of the sons ran out and said, "My mom wants to take a photo with you and our family."
Every single member of the Torres family stopped what they were doing, came out to the lobby and thanked me. When Mom Maria hugged me and presented me with a gift, I'm not even going to act like I didn't walk out of there in tears. And it wasn't because hot salsa got in my eyes.
The Torres family is relocating to Wisconsin and when asked if they planned to open a restaurant when they get settled in their new home, Vanessa said, "Maybe down the road, but not right now."