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The spirit of determination

It is often the spirit of determination that marks out a small business entrepreneur. That is certainly the case with Doris Seggie, an Arizona woman who came to live in Belfast after her mother-in-law, who lives here, was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease.

Doris was a high flier in the US, with a doctorate in organisational leadership. But that was not enough to get her a job in recession-hit Belfast. So her response was to set-up in business for herself.

‘Go for It!’ programme with Invest NI
“A friend told me about the ‘Go for It!’ programme with Invest NI,” said Doris. “My friend said if you have a good enough business plan, Invest NI might finance your business idea.
“It was always my ambition to set-up a taco shop, so I wrote a business plan. I submitted that to my bank, which rejected it. So I went to Invest NI and they financed my business.”
Tacos and burritos are common foods in Mexico and in the American states bordering Mexico. However, it is only Mexicans, Americans and people who have travelled widely who will have previously come across authentic tacos, suggested Doris.

The type Doris prepares and sells are in the style of the tacos produced in Arizona and California, in the area of the Baja desert, where wraps usually contain meat and fish. Her taco wraps are gluten free – an important selling point.

At Doris’s Baja Taqueria, the tacos are sold with options of beef, chicken, pork, salmon and shrimp fillings, though they are also available with vegetarian, vegan and gluten free fillings.

Starting small
Doris launched her business in October last year and took the decision to start small. “I looked for premises on busy roads in the student areas. But the rents and the rates would kill you. The rates, especially. For a new business there is uncertainty and not a lot of people know what a taco is. So my idea was to start small.”

The business is for the moment therefore trading only from St George’s Market in Belfast and, at present, only on Saturdays. “It’s just me. I do all the cooking and the preparing. I do it all myself” said Doris. That includes booking a stall every week.

“I would like to have a permanent stall, but I am number 21 on the (waiting) list for a stall,” she said. “So there’s two years to wait! Expansion is going to be gradual.

“If business picks up I could probably trade on Friday as well,” she said. “I like the idea of starting small in St George’s Market.”

Doris says that hers is the only authentic taqueria trading anywhere in Ireland. But she is confident that once people try the product it won’t be a case of ‘taco and leave it’.

Post by Paul Gosling of the Belfast Telegraph