Mixing business with pleasure

Juan and Julie Vasquez work together 24/7.

Juan and Julie Vasquez work together 24/7.

Couples around the county manage businesses together. Juan and Julie Vasquez are a young couple who manage their businesses by communicating and thinking outside the box.

Juan, 26, Julie, 25, have been married for six years. They juggle two children and two restaurants. However, the ambitious couple has another child and another restaurant on the way. Currently, the couple manages El Toro Taqueria restaurants in Waynesboro and Grovetown. They will open one in Sylvania next month. They intend to create a chain of Mexican food eateries.

At the tender ages of 21 and 19 years old, the couple first tried their hand at a restaurant in Augusta that failed after only four months. It taught them that location was everything. The couple did not give up, but instead began running a food truck business in Juan’s hometown of Millen.

“That was during our first year of marriage,” Julie said.

Julie gave birth to their first child a month before the first entrepreneurial endeavor began. Juan signed a contract while Julie was in labor.

“Hold on, I have to go sign some paperwork and I will be right back,” Julie recalled her husband saying to her. It’s something they both laugh about.

“On the way back, I was trying to hurry,” Juan said and pointed out that he made it back to the hospital in time for the birth.

After the business failure, the food truck path led them to Waynesboro and eventually to the North Liberty Street location where their restaurant now sits. Opening restaurants in Waynesboro and Grovetown during a pandemic, the couple became essential workers.

“We didn’t shut down,” Julie said. “We continued working.”

Juan’s dad operated a restaurant, so he was familiar with the lifestyle that often demands a heavy workload. Julie never worked in the food business before and was hesitant to take on the sacrifices that running a restaurant takes. She worried that the couple would give up family time and a social life. Now, the couple works together 24 hours a day, 7-days-per week.

“We basically take our work home,” Julie said. Juan nodded in agreement. “There is always something to do,” he said.

They divide responsibilities, they said in unison. She focuses on the administrative tasks. He handles the operations. They both claim they have overcome the challenge of spending so much time together by communicating. The couple has also learned to talk to each other about obstacles they face and work out the solutions together, rather than “bumping heads.”

“We have our good days and our bad days,” Juan said. “But it all boils down to communication.”

Julie also learned to be resourceful in creating social events that also contain an element of work benefit. She used the Wimberly House’s recent “A Taste of Burke County” event as an example. The event functioned as a date night for the couple, while they networked and gained exposure for their business.

They both agree that being in business has strengthened their relationship. With a tendency to be introverted, Julie had to learn to break out of her shell. She has begun the catering side of the business, that presents the couple opportunities to attend events outside of the restaurant building.

“I learned to involve our work with our social life in a way that could help the restaurant grow,” Julie said. ‘I have also learned to be comfortable with people.”

The couple intends to own and operate four restaurants before they begin offering partnerships.

“My biggest vision, is to offer opportunity for people within our company that show potential and growth to have their own restaurant so that they elevate themselves and create something for their future,” Juan said.

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