By Tori Freeman
Service first. Smiles second. Those are the priorities for Gary Gomez, owner of uptown Waco’s new food truck, Gary’s Grill. Of course, the food is important too, but the small, navy trailer means more to Gary than just an opportunity to serve good food.
“I want to bless people with food and fellowship,” he explains. “I love to serve people, make people happy. When they take their first bite–their face…I love that.”
For two years, Gary has been cooking up authentic Mexican cuisine for the Waco locale, first on Saturdays at the Farmers Market and more recently out of a small food trailer parked by Pinewood Coffee.
Originally from Guadalajara, Jalisco (“La Tierra de Mariachi”), Gary and his wife moved to the United States nearly two decades ago. They lived in Michigan, then Idaho, and finally landed in Waco, Texas. Gary noticed an abundance of Tex-Mex around the city but nothing that satisfied his craving for authentic Mexican flavor. So he decided to make his own.
Under the guidance of his local pastor, who has spent a lot of time in Mexico with a church plant, Gary perfected his flavor palette.
However, it’s not just the mouthwatering, flavorful, just-the-right-amount-of-spicy food that makes a trip to Gary’s Grill worth the visit. The smell may draw you over, but don’t be surprised if the buoyant personalities of Gary and his wife Kennia keep you hanging around the food truck’s awning for an hour.
The day we decided to ask Gary for his story was your typical Texas spring day: cold and wet. But even the sideways rain couldn’t keep us away from the warmth Gary radiated as he shared tales from his life with us.
Over the years, he bounced from job to job, working at Chile’s and later Golden Corral, taking temporary jobs in between and even ending up in construction for a while. While in Waco, he actually catered for his church, often cooking for hundreds at a time.
“My pastor taught me a lot about…food,” he told us. We laughed, expecting instead a story about spiritual lessons Gary had learned.
But as a 93-year-old fellow church member reminded Gary one day, service is an integral part of Gary’s beliefs. Food and faith go hand in hand, and Gary’s Grill provides an avenue through which Gary and Kennia can love and serve the people of Waco.
If you ask, they will eagerly offer up some of the miracles they’ve encountered in their own lives, like the very existence of their second son. For years after the birth of their eldest, Kennia experienced health problems that prevented her from becoming pregnant again. After nearly a decade of doctor’s visits and medical tests, the couple was told nothing could be done for Kennia. One night, Gary felt a call from God to spend a night praying for his wife, and the next day they learned she was completely healed!
The stories like these, the genuine servant hearts of the Gomezes, and the seriously delicious menu items have turned us into Gary’s Grill regulars. And we are not alone–take a glance around Pinewood and you will likely find Gary’s food alongside cups of coffee.
You can find Gary’s Grill parked outside Pinewood every Monday through Saturday, serving up tasty tacos, handmade huaraches and satisfied smiles. Visit their website or Facebook page for more information.