top of page

Our Story

Husband and wife lovebirds. We do everything together and we made this dream come true!

Sandra-and-Nick.jpg

How We Got Started

Where to begin?  Nick: Husband extraordinaire. The brain that holds this whole thing together. The patient rock that allows Sandra to roam free and get creative. Nick is an engineer by profession and a process guru who can solve any problem just by examining every aspect. How to efficiently build the kitchen shelves? How to stock our inventory without wasting food? How to eliminate waste and stay compliant with food safety? And keep our finances in check.

 

Sandra: The vision, the food creation, the flavor, the service. Sandra is focused on customer satisfaction. Her background in marketing gives her an edge on menu design, website design and overall atmosphere of the restaurant. Her management skills allow her to handle employee issues and juggle managing the kitchen and all aspects of the customer experience from beginning to end. Plus her attention to detail is uncanny.

Once Upon a Time

Nick and Sandra have been married for over a decade. They met in Portland, Oregon on a dating website. A cliche to a couple that actually made it. They both had office jobs (Engineer and Marketer - did you not read this above?) They moved to Tucson because of a job transfer for Nick, and Sandra couldn’t pack her bags fast enough, mostly full of swim suits, leaving her heavy rain coats behind.

 

After a couple of years in Tucson, they both decided they are made for the big city, and so off to Phoenix they went. Still both in Engineering and Marketing jobs. Sandra loved to hate her job for 5 years: working hard, long hours, building websites, managing marketing teams, handling social media, until one day she decided she needed a change.

 

Nick and Sandra always dreamed of starting their own food truck “when we retire.” One day Nick said: why wait? Let’s just do it while we have the energy! Sandra took that to heart. And it hasn’t been an easy journey.

 

First Thing's First

Where do we even begin? So Sandra invited all their friends and made a sampling of food and sauces. She marinated 3 kinds of chicken flavors, and 4 types of sauces. She made beef and pork too, and grilled veggies.

Hence was the birth of the PROTEIN BOWLS.

 

Friends ate, drank and voted. And we decided on what is now known as the chicken protein bowl and the beef kabab protein bowl. The sauces that were selected are now our tahini and aioli sauces. Together they form an indescribable burst of euphoria in your mouth. You just have to try it to understand what we’re talking about.

 

So Now What?

I guess we have two protein bowls to start with: a chicken with veggies over rice and a beef kabab with veggies over rice. There was also the pulled pork bowl that was super popular among friends, but maybe our friends are just a few of the pork-eating population??? We decided we needed something else to start with besides the bowls, so we went with a wrap or a salad instead of rice to compliment the protein.

 

We also added the panini: smoked turkey and grilled chicken and veggie panini. Because who doesn’t love a toasty, cheesy sandwich?

 

Our very first event was a sporting event called Rugged Maniac. It was the perfect fit: healthy food for healthy athletic adventurous people. It was a match made in heaven for our first event (shhh, don’t tell them we were rookies, I mean we had our health licenses and passed our food managers exams). We do things the right way. And we are anal, mostly Sandra, but what can we say?

 

How Did it Go?

Very well thank you! One of our best events in fact. Lots of sales, people stood in line to eat our food. Only one person got too impatient waiting and wanted her money back, but the rest raved about the food, the quality, the flavor, the healthiness of the ingredients. It was perfect!

 

Off We Go

Why not try our luck at other events? Still both fully employed during the week, Sandra used her marketing skills to secure a few more weekend events and a spot at a farmer’s market to attend.

You’re probably wondering what this “food truck” looked like. Well, nothing glamourous. In fact, it was mostly a 10x10 tent, a tow-trailer on wheels, and all our equipment strapped with bungie cords and heavy duty tie down straps.

 

Funny, but Not Really

So we mentioned the straps holding together all this equipment while we traveled from place to place. What you don’t know is that we lost oh so many pieces of equipment along the way.

 

The day we passed the health inspection, while heading to the location, we lost 2 panini presses. We got there and as we were installing, we looked at each other accusatorily asking “did you not pack the panini presses?” We then realized “Oh sh&&! Did we lose them on the way?”

 

One time, we were merrily driving to our farmer’s market when a car next to us started honking and pointing. We rolled down the window and the driver said “your generator!” We were like “huh?” So we decided to pull over to see what he was talking about and found our generator was still running two blocks away on the sidewalk, just sitting there, running in full speed!

 

Another time, we were heading to a location where a jewelry vendor in Scottsdale wanted us to have food sold at the back alley of his store to attract business. We were willing to try everything so we said ok. On our way there, we made a U-turn and as we looked in the rear view mirror, we saw the flat top of our griddle fall off the trailer, and before we could make another U-turn to go retrieve it, one car, then another truck drove right over it. “ta-tung, ta-tung” You know those scenes in movies that happened in slow-motion? They were happening right before our eyes…nooooooooooooo!!!!!

 

One time (at band camp) we had to drive on a long dirt bumpy road to get to hidden lake, and among the dust that covered all our equipment (that we had to spend half an hour cleaning off before starting to serve) we got to our location, backed into our spot (something Nick is a pro at) we saw that one of the wheels of the prep fridge was unhinged and the fridge was free flowing, threatening to tip over in a major way.

 

Mother’s day, we made an elaborate brunch of quiche, crepes, French toast, and egg breakfast panini, we set up, and a terrible wind storm blew our tent away and broke it, even though we had tent weights. Read our blog about tent weights and you’ll know what we went through just to get them. All the food went tumbling on the pavement, including a whole quiche that had just been baked.. We got 2 customers that day, and a lot of clean up.

 

Nothing was easy, but every time, we got there, dealt with the challenge, and started cooking and serving food like it was not our first rodeo.

 

Did we mention how Nick almost fainted of a heat stroke in the middle of August, serving food outside of an apartment complex in Central Phoenix?

 

Nope, nothing was easy. But we did it!

 

Then Covid Hit...

Yep, COVID…Just as Sandra had decided to quit her job and do this full time, the unexpected happened. All concerts, events, life stopped to a halt.

 

Now What?

Our realtor at the time (we were trying to sell our home and buy one with more land to allow us to store our trailer without the HOA on our a&& every second), said: have you heard of meal prep? It’s all the rage right now.

So Sandra looked into it and so began the second phase of our journey

 

Meal Prep

Sandra redesigned the Taza website to incorporate an online ordering menu for people who wanted healthy food for the week delivered to their homes. It quickly took off. Sandra cooked in a commercial kitchen and drove to people’s homes to deliver meals. It was a very interesting period: she saw parts of the valley she had never been to before, from Peoria, to Glendale, to Mesa, to Tempe, to Chandler, to Gilbert, to Queen Creek. Driving and cooking was the daily menu.

 

Taza’s menu grew bigger and more eclectic (this is a foreshadowing of the term “fusion”). Customized dishes were the key to the success of Taza’s meal prep business. From gluten free, to keto, to vegan, to home cooking. We made things like spaghetti meatballs, salmon, pork loin, meatloaf, spaghetti squash, cauliflower rice, eggplant casserole, you name it, we did it!

 

Personal Chef

We started getting requests for personal chef cooking in people’s homes. No one wanted to go out, so we went to them. Sandra put on her mask and took her cooking gear and off she went to prepare date nights, small family gatherings and birthday dinners in people’s homes. Customization of the menu became a key component that differentiated Taza from other options. You want shrimp scampi? You got it! You want ribeye steak, you got it! You want a buffet with soup, appetizer, buffet style with salmon, chicken, and beef, and a cheesecake for dessert? You got it! Can we make a brunch menu with omelettes, French toast, crepes, bacon and sausage? You got it! Do we have an appetizer-style menu with charcuterie boards, crostinis, salads and dips for a mingle? You got it! (Again, foreshadowing of the term “fusion”)

 

Catering

The transition into catering is more of a blur. Personal chef quickly became catering as Covid restrictions lifted and more people started to gather from 2-5 people to larger groups. Customers continued to shower us with 5-star reviews as our service, food quality and flavor outperformed their wildest expectations. Taza became known for not only a catering and personal chef option, but a desired service for gatherings. We catered to bachelor/bachelorette parties, birthdays, anniversaries, business lunches, holiday parties, family gatherings, out-of-town Airbnb’ers, the celebrations were endless.

 

Bringing it all Together

What’s next, we asked. We knew that catering and personal chef were more up our alley with the sort of food we offered. We quickly realized that building a food truck was not where we wanted to pursue the development of Taza.

 

I mean, losing one more piece of equipment on the road was tempting, but….We wanted people to experience the flavor and the scratch-made feel that Taza provides. We also were getting really sick and tired of hauling all our equipment and ingredients to a commercial kitchen between gigs. We wanted our own place. It was time to make it to the next level in this venture.

 

Hence, The Birth of Taza Bistro

WHAT IS MEDITERRANEAN FUSION?

When we were at the farmers market, customers would come up to us, and it was the most inquisitive time of our journey. “What is TAZA?” “What do you do?” “What kind of food is this?”

 

So we needed an answer. I often told Nick: why do we need to be pigeon-holed? Why do we have to say we are this or that? Why can’t we just be Taza? But inquisitive minds need to know. So here is our answer: It’s a fusion See how we did that? The foreshadowing above, all coming full circle. Don’t tell me you skimmed past that part! Go back and read it!

 

Ok fine….

Fusion: A term meaning a blending of multiple things together in a cohesive way (Source: Sandra’s dictionary, not Wikipedia).

 

Enough joking around. Mediterranean fusion is how we describe the melting pot of Middle Eastern, French, Greek, Italian, Spanish and Sandra’s own style of cooking and seasoning to bring together what is known as Taza dishes.

 

So Here We Are

Stop by and experience Taza Bistro. We are a neighborhood hangout that offers great food, a friendly atmosphere, and a full bar.

bottom of page