Many restaurant owners and managers work years for success, but Adilene Marquez got a head start growing up in the restaurant business.

Her family runs the chain of Taqueria Mexico Authentic Mexican restaurants across North America, including locations in New York, Kentucky, Ohio and Mexico. Marquez, 20, has managed shops in Killeen and Taqueria Mexico #3 in Harker Heights for the past five years, splitting some of that time with attending Ellison High School.

Her mother, Maria Marquez, owns the shop, and a family member opened the first restaurant in Houston 50 years ago.

“All the taquerias that you see are (run by) her 13 brothers and sisters,” Adilene Marquez said.

She recalled moving to the U.S. at a very young age.

“It started when we came from Mexico and my parents were trying to start anew for their kids,” she said.

The family moved around the state and lived in Bastrop before settling in Killeen, where they opened a restaurant in 1998. About five years ago, the owner of Back Yard Burgers approached the Marquezes about opening up a restaurant in Harker Heights.

“The guy that owned it decided he didn’t want the business and he was a good friend of my parents and asked if they wanted to come to Heights,” Adilene Marquez said.

Taqueria Mexico in Harker Heights welcomes guests with colorful furniture of different shapes, eye-catching photos and music. Besides the food, customers also enjoy their waters and salsas, Adilene Marquez said.

“Whether you get tortilla soup or a big steaming tampiquena plate, you get the Mexican feel of it.”

Adilene Marquez currently attends Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi, where she’s majoring in nursing and minoring in business. She juggles school and work by staying in constant contact with the restaurant and visiting during school breaks.

“Since we were younger, we’ve always learned to be responsible or take on shifts when one of the employees couldn’t come in,” she said. “It’s good and there’s a lot of free food, so you can’t complain.”

Taqueria Mexico #3 is at 526 E. Farm-to-Market 2410, Harker Heights.

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