By Jim Sullivan
---- — NEWBURYPORT — A taste of the Southwest has been popping up in Newburyport and is causing quite a stir.
Metzy’s Taqueria is the first gourmet food truck in Newburyport and it has been drawing about 75 to 100 customers a day at the Plum Island airport and the Lord Timothy Dexter Industrial Green since it started rolling last Saturday.
“I’ve always been interested in food,” owner Erik Metzdorf said. “Last year I was deciding that I needed to make a change and trying to figure out the business I was going to go in. Having been a small business owner for the past several years, my resume looked funny. None of the stuff had been my passion. This is something that I wanted to do for a long time.”
A Plum Island resident, Metzdorf has worked in the importing and sporting goods businesses, as well as in the restaurant world. Although he enjoyed his past work, Metzdorf felt it didn’t fill a deeper need. When a good friend came home from San Diego lamenting the lack of good food trucks on the North Shore last year, it rang a bell Metzdorf had never thought about before.
“I love what I am doing right now and I didn’t love what I was doing before,” Metzdorf said. “That’s a big difference in life. People are noticing it and I think they are feeling it.”
Over the winter, Metzdorf began researching what kind of ambulatory cuisine the area would support, taking surveys and traffic counts at the industrial park as well as the Route 1 traffic circle. Metzdorf entertained many different ideas on what to serve, but Tex Mex was the answer.
He and his wife Kelly began the process of getting their permitting together from the city, eventually rolling the truck for the first time at the Lucky Duck Derby last weekend.
“I love this truck now,” Metzdorf said. “It is a part of my life.”
Listing their hours and places of operation each morning on Facebook and Twitter, the Taqueria has become an overnight sensation with customers taking “selfies” at the truck.
“Right now, we are using that to try and develop a base,” Metzdorf said. “I’m asking people, when they like the food, to please go and rate us, and like us.”
Amesbury’s Deborah Cobb saw the truck at the airport while on the road the other day and decided to give it a shot Friday afternoon.
“I love these kinds of tacos,” Cobb said. “I just love Mexican food. There is a new place that opened in Methuen but that is ways to go. This is right here and I am at work and on my lunch. You can’t beat it.”
Metzy’s serves five different tacos, four different burritos with two different salads and soups coming soon. (The fish tacos, steak and fish burritos seem to be the favorites at the moment.)
Chef Brad DeLibero comes to Metzy’s by way of Johnson and Wales, Mad Martha’s Island Cafe and the Beachcoma, and designed the menu with Metzdorf’s input.
“We’ve gotten zero negative feedback,” Metzdorf said. “It’s all been positive feedback.”
Plum Island’s Judy Martini was happy to see a taqueria on the island.
“I’ve been passing it every time I come on and off the island so I can try it,” Martini said. “I’m surprised the town fathers allowed them to do it, but I am thrilled. I love Mexican.”
Rosa Melvin currently lives in Newburyport and has been waiting for something like Metzy’s to happen for a while.
“I was driving by and I think I saw them on Saturday,” Melvin said. “It’s very hard to find this up in New England. I have to go down to East Boston to get something I want.”