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UNT entrepreneurship student balances taco shop and school

UNT entrepreneurship student balances taco shop and school

UNT entrepreneurship student balances taco shop and school
October 19
10:00 2018

Sitting in between Viet Bites and Sushi Café on West Hickory Street is a new business: Drunchies Tacos.

But unlike other taco places in Denton, Drunchies hosts authentic Mexican food at a “Mexican schedule,” 22-year-old owner Juan Correa said.

Open Monday through Wednesday from noon to midnight, and Thursday through Saturday from noon until 3 a.m., Drunchies’ market is both those having a fun night out at the Fry Street bars and college students.

Juan, an entrepreneurship senior, came up with the idea when he was out on Fry Street himself and his only options for food were subs and pizza.

“[My father] saw that we really wanted it, so he gave us a chance,”  Juan said. “He invested [in] us.”

Juan’s father, who owns just over eight paleterias or ice cream shops, helped get Juan started. His mother, Laura Correa, is the one who comes down at least three times a week to help run the business. She drives an hour from Arlington to Denton to help manage the business.

In fact, her recipes for the horchata, the sauces and the meat seasonings are all from her recipe book. In particular, she makes the journey to Denton to help Thursday, Friday and Saturday mornings, Juan’s busiest nights, to make sure everything is ready. This includes making sure there is enough meat to get through the night, checking numbers for inventory and double-checking that everything is stocked.

“My mom, that’s my guardian angel right there,” Juan said. “She taught me everything. Everything we’ve learned these past couple of months is because of her.”

Juan’s mother has worked in the restaurant business for 25 years and knows the amount of work it takes to successfully work in the food industry. From  Michoacán, Mexico, her father sold carnitas and she managed food trucks in California before moving to Texas.

Initially opposed to her son opening up a food place, she recommended opening another location of the family paleteria, which she believes is much simpler to handle than a food business. But seeing how determined her son was to learn and make it work, she knew she had to support him.

“My ultimate hope is that Juan and his brother learn about the reality of owning a business,” Laura said. “Business is hard, it takes patience. It’s not what it looks like or sounds like from the outside.”

Laura Correa (right) helps her son, Juan Correa (left), to prepare an order for a customer. Laura has years of experience in the food service industry. Omar Gonzalez

Juan said his parents warned him  that running a restaurant would be hard work. But as he’s almost set to graduate from the UNT School of Business, Juan saw this as the perfect opportunity for internship credit. After he applied through Handshake, he spoke to those in the College of Business tasked with approving internship choices.

Facing what Juan describes as a “little skepticism” on their part, he eventually got Drunchies approved as an internship and signed his mom up as his supervisor.

Juan credits his professor Dr. Elisabeth Struckell as one of his greatest sources of guidance. Struckell is a professor at the UNT School of Business and teaches a business policy capstone every business student has to take to graduate.

She remembers when Juan first approached her.

“He came up to me after the first class day and said, ‘I think you can be really helpful to my business, and I would like to come talk to you about it,’” Stuckell said.

Struckell then saw the opportunity to partner Juan up with the UNT Entrepreneurship and Family Business club, offering both sides the opportunity for hands-on experience. The club has been able to visit Drunchies and give Juan both marketing and logistical advice.

Seeing that Juan was initially having issues with keeping track of how much he was spending on ingredients and how to market better, the Entrepreneurship and Family Business club offered up practical solutions.

“Because he’s so busy as a student and an owner, he doesn’t really have a lot of time to do business analysis,” Struckell said.

The Entrepreneurship and Family Business club has been able to make Juan recommendations on signage, word usage on menus and signs. Struckell has even gone as far as to encourage Juan to apply to the Global Student Entrepreneurship contest which highlights undergraduate or graduate students with a company operating at least six months and a revenue of more than $500. The prize is $25,000 and professional mentorship and networking opportunities.

“It’s in his blood,” Struckell said. “He’s just a great guy. A nice person, down-to-earth, authentic and sincere. You just want to help him.”

On top of running Drunchies six days a week, Juan has to balance his schoolwork,  something Juan said has been a struggle so far.

“I’m getting C’s on my exams,” Juan said. “I’m usually an A student. It’s so overwhelming. I have to schedule employees, pay the bills — there’s still a lot more stuff because I’m still relatively new but there’s a new problem every single day.”

Despite this, Juan said he likes a challenge.

“I stay bored,” Juan said. “This keeps me on my toes.”

As for the future of Drunchies, Juan said friends back home in Arlington have been trying to convince him to open another location there.

With his eyes set on other ventures, Juan is not so sure that is the path he wants to take. With interests all over the board, all Juan knows is that he wants to experience a little bit of everything.

Featured Image: Juan Correa sprinkles cilantro and onion on beef tacos. Drunchies Tacos opens at noon every day. Omar Gonzalez

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Maritza Ramos

Maritza Ramos

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1 Comment

  1. Wendy
    Wendy November 22, 13:10

    He’s a go getter, a mover and a shaker.

    Reply to this comment

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