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After losing a job a few years ago, Fred Cox seized the opportunity to put wheels in motion and start his own business.
In March 2011, Cox bought a food truck. Not long afterward, Taco Express began popping up around Elizabethtown and around the state.
“I’ve built a really good crowd travelling around with this,” Cox said of the truck.
The new business venture is a natural fit for the 41-year-old Elizabethtown resident who began cooking at a young age in Indiana because both his parents worked. As a child, he even would be tasked to fix family meals.
Cooking always has been a passion for Cox. He began a catering business in 2001 and 10 years later made the leap to the food truck. He still does catering as well.
By trade, Cox is a licensed financial representative and a licensed insurance salesman.
“Many times I’ve had the opportunity to go back to that, but I love what I do,” Cox said.
Cox holds a statewide permit for the truck and enjoys the fact the mobile business allows him to travel. His favorite aspect is the people, he said.
The Kentucky Derby chow wagon festivities and festivals around the state, such as Pikeville’s Hillbilly Days, are among the destinations at which Cox and his food truck have appeared. Those events have their perks, too.
“The fun part of working fairs and festivals is you don’t have to pay for food ‘cause you’re trading food with everybody,” Cox said.
Additionally, Taco Express has become a staple of downtown Elizabethtown’s Second Saturday activities and has regular scheduled set ups at Elizabethtown businesses such as First Federal Savings Bank, iPay Technologies, UPS Supply Chain Solutions and Bluegrass Cellular. Such places, he said, see the importance of helping small businesses.
And don’t let the name fool you. Although the truck came already named Taco Express and Mexican food is his primary offering, Cox does not limit his offerings to south-of-the-border cuisine.
“I may be doing Mexican food today, hamburgers the next day and fried chicken and mashed potatoes the next,” he said.
His biggest food draws are Mexican items and double cheeseburgers, he said.
And Cox is more than a little familiar with how to make Mexican food. Years ago, Cox had the opportunity to cook in several kitchens in Mexico City.
“I fry my own chips, shells and salad bowls,” Cox said. “I season my own beef, I blend my own beans and I make my own salsa, and people taste the difference.”
His specialty is his Macho Nachos, his version of nachos supreme.
Customers have requested specific food, too, including one who asked for jambalaya.
“So I made jambalaya for him,” Cox said, explaining he prays for his customers and is thankful they allow him to do what he does.
With help from two part-time employees, his wife, Tracey, and three of their five children, Cox said he sets up whenever he can, sometimes having to decline offers because of a booked schedule. He said he hates to turn down offers.
Tracey said her husband draws people because of his “outgoing, energetic” personality and because he’s very conscious about making sure to give customers value for their money.
“We have five kids between us, so we’re very conscious of that,” she said.
In addition, Tracey said, her husband is a fun and friendly guy.
One of Cox’s children, Ryan, 15, has the same love of food as his father does and helps as often as he can. The Central Hardin High School sophomore started cooking French toast when he was 4, Cox said.
Cox encouraged people to like his page on Facebook — Taco Express Etown – which Ryan, incidentally, started. On the “About” page, Ryan listed himself as “Culinary Team.”
Tracey said Ryan enjoys working with customers and already has talked about opening his own restaurant.
Because of his busy schedule, including second and third shifts at some factories, Cox works long hours. He usually takes Sundays off, but he sometimes does catering on those days, he said.
Days might be long and exhausting, but they also seem to be the recipe for his happiness.
“When you love what you do it makes it a whole lot easier,” Cox said.
A FEW EXPRESS FACTS ABOUT FRED COX:
City of birth: Jeffersonville, Ind.
City of residence: Elizabethtown
Favorite music: Southern gospel
Favorite TV shows: Fox News and “The Bible”
Favorite book: “The Purpose Driven Life” by Rick Warren
Hobbies: Flea markets, camping and spending time at Rough River
Favorite food: “Anything prepared by someone else.”
Robert Villanueva can be reached at (270) 505-1743 or firstname.lastname@example.org.