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Comforts of home: Primo Sierra at ease in the kitchen or the rodeo arena

By Erika Pedroza and Julie Neal | Published Thursday, May 5, 2011

Squished in a crowded, Decatur taqueria, Primo Sierra greets everyone personally in the restaurant he established 12 years ago with his wife, Margarita.

AMIGO - Charro and entrepreneur Primo Sierra of Decatur has made plenty of friends at coleaderos across the state and regular customers at his taqueria. Sierra is the fifth feature in a series. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

Growing up in Michoac n, Mexico, Primo moved to Chicago, a big city with lots of crime.

“Too much drugs and too much gangs,” Primo said. “We like this little town because it’s quiet, and everything is different.”

Before fleeing the negative aspects, however, Primo found what is arguably the most positive thing.

While working in the laundry service department of the Hilton Hotel in Chicago, Primo met Margarita, and they began dating.

After two years, the couple married and within a couple more years, they had two daughters, Erica and Sonia.

They lived in the Windy City for about 10 years before moving to the West Coast. In California, Primo worked as a superivisor at a wood carving factory and Margarita at a Japanese cassette tape company.

During this time, Margarita gave birth to two more children, Junior and Evette.

After the last child was born, Margarita took time off of work, and it was then that the family opted to open a small seafood restaurant that ran for two years.

This was the inspiration for opening Primo’s Taqueria after Primo moved his family again; this time to Decatur.

High rent and family connections influenced the move to Texas.

Margarita worked various jobs, including at a clothing company in Bowie, caring for an elderly woman, as a school janitor and at Comet Cleaners while Primo worked at a conversion business in Ponder for two years then at Imperial Fabricating before deciding again to open a food establishment.

It started as a mere taco stand on business U.S. 81/287 before growing to its current location at a renovated gas station on the corner of Walnut and Cates streets.

But before there was a storefront, the restaurant’s success began in a lunchbox.

Every night, Margarita packed a couple of burritos for Primo’s lunch. Their plump appearance and savory scent attracted the attention of many of his co-workers.

“Sometimes Primo wouldn’t eat because he would give all his burritos away to co-workers who asked for them,” Margarita said.

However, the lunch sacrifices back then made for the thriving success of Primo’s Taqueria now.

With encouragement from co-workers who promised patronage, Primo opened a taco stand.

“I wanted to try to progress,” he said. “People love Mexican food, and that’s what pushed us to open a taqueria.”

After a year of success, the taco stand moved to its current location on Walnut Street.

The restaurant boasts a menu of their original products – tacos, burritos, tostadas and tortas that can be made of either breakfast options (sausage and egg or chorizo and potatoes or a combination of both) or an array of lunch meats including ground beef, diced steak, chicken, pork and barbacoa.

Daily specials have been added, including enchiladas and the popular Sunday special, menudo, which is usually sold out before most people roll out of bed.

“But you can always call ahead and ask us to save you a cup,” he said. “We’d be glad to do it.”

Despite a fluctuating economy, prices have remained fairly consistent.

But the Sierras credit their success to more than good food.

“We treat our customers well,” Margarita said. “The regulars are like family.”

This point is exhibited in Primo sharing a taco or two with a regular customer.

“These are my friends,” he said.

Primo has also made friends with charros from across the state.

Another factor in his decision to move to Texas was the land outside the city that suits his favorite hobby – Mexican rodeos.

“It’s not really different (than American ones),” he said. “It’s pretty much the same, but we don’t rope that much or barrel race.”

Primo used to host rodeos every other weekend at an arena on his land but has since cut back.

“When I do a rodeo, I have to put the money up front,” he said. “Right now, the economy is too bad. I don’t want to take a chance and do it if we’re not going to make it (break even).”

Another negative factor is the growing rodeo fan base in the area.

“I was the first one doing rodeos around here in Wise County,” Primo said. “Every time I did it, it was packed. Now, there are too many other rodeos.”

Primo said he is planning his next rodeo but has to wait for the weather to cooperate.

Along with their four children and their spouses, Primo and Margarita have six grandchildren: Jorge Jr., Damian, Devanhi, Joseph, Gavin, Julian and a granddaughter on the way.

SERVICE WITH A SMILE - For 12 years, Primo Sierra has owned and operated Primo's Taqueria in Decatur. Sierra and his wife, Margarita, previously owned a seafood restaurant in California. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

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