Colorado Latinos/as to Know and Support: July 2023
Owner Maria Rangel
My name is Maria Rangel. My business, Maiz Denver, is a Denver-based food truck that specializes in gorditas (“Little Fatties”) and vegan green chili. We also offer catering services.
For most of my career I was in the medical field as an EMT for the Denver Paramedics. After little over eight years on the ambulance, I transferred to the Denver Detox facility where I worked with substance/alcohol abuse clients. The medical field was a great experience and I learned so much. However, I was burned out. It was time to take a step into something else. I wanted to own my own business, I had a love for gorditas, and I wanted to share them with the people of Denver. This is how Maiz Denver was created. The business officially opened around the end of May 2021. We are still learning, growing, and building a following.
I consider myself a Chicana, born and raised on the East side of Denver. When I'm not on the food truck, I'm spending time with my two beautiful daughters and husband.
(The website has a location and time calendar.)
Find Maiz Denver on Facebook
Is your heritage/identity/culture a part of your business?
My Mexican American (aka Chicana) heritage is most definitely a part of the business. Our gordita recipe comes from Juárez, Mexico. There are different ways to make gorditas but our recipe is fried, giving it a crispy shell. You can find gorditas around but none like ours! Our best selling filling for the gordita is the Calabasita, which is corn and squash sautéed together. The recipe was passed down from my paternal grandmother.
We specialize in Mexican food with a modern touch. Our recipes take our family's traditional Mexican recipes and mix them with recipes that were created when my family immigrated to America. We call our food "Chicana inspired cuisine." The journey of building this business, has provided so much information about my family, my ancestors and my roots. The process has lead me to discover more of myself and where I come from. Our goal is to bring people together with food that makes them feel good.
Find Maiz Denver on Instagram
Being a small business owner is not easy. What challenges have you faced? Have you ever thought of giving up? If so, what inspired or motivated you to keep going?
Our challenges are high food costs and not having a permanent location. But the biggest challenge is a personal one, which is being away from my kids. There are times I don't see them for a few days because of back-to-back events and times. Those moments make it hard to keep going but my girls inspire me. They lift me up and tell me to keep going!
What sets your business apart from others? We believe our gorditas set us apart from others! They are comforting and crispy! Gorditas are corn masa patties, lightly fried in grape seed oil, and stuffed with savory fillings. Smother any gordita with vegetarian green chili or enjoy with fresh salsas. Our gorditas are also gluten free. From gourmet ingredients, cage free proteins to vegetarian options, we want everybody to be able to eat our food even if you have dietary restrictions.
What are you most proud of?
I am most proud of NOT giving up. The process was hard to get to the point of opening. But once the business actually got up and running, to keep it going is even more challenging.
What is the most joyful part of your business?
We talk a lot about the struggles, BUT there are more happy moments than not. I'll be driving to an event and I'll find myself smiling, thankful for being able to live out a dream come true. I have about 45 minutes to myself before employees come in. My music is jammin' out, I'm in the zone cooking away, hearing the sizzling sound from the grill, smelling the delicious aromas from the food. My heart is just so full in those moments. Connecting with the people that come to our truck is a joyful part of the job as well. Making and serving gorditas brings me joy.
What qualities, characteristics, or people have contributed to your success?
My biggest supporters have been women/femmes by far. So many friends of friends have referred Maiz. They come out, buy food, post about us, and help advertise. The people who want you to succeed will support and lift you up no matter what.
What advice do you for others who want to start their own business?
Believe in yourself; Anything is possible. Not everyone you think or count on to support you will actually do it. Nothing will be easy. But when the struggles come, work through them because they are not forever. Struggles help the growth process.
All images are the property of Maiz Denver.
Some content may have been edited for clarity.