Maria Mendez is Chicago’s first licensed “Mobile Prepared Food” Push Cart Vendor. She and her younger sister migrated from Mexico in 2006 when she was 16, to reunite with their mother in Chicago where she joined the family push cart business. In 2013, hearing news of push cart vendor bans soon to be enforced in Chicago, Maria began exploring ways to educate herself.
With the assistance of Universidad Popular, a community center in Little Village, she created a business model, and began researching cost and operation procedures like food handler manager certifications for herself, mother, step-father and husband. In 2016, Maria formalized her family’s 12-year informal tamales push cart business and launched the project “Yo Quiero Ser Micro-empresario/a,” which helps undocumented street vendors in Chicago contribute their rich culinary culture to the local food scene by becoming licensed prepared food vendors and successful micro-entrepreneurs.
Yolis Tamales is a restaurant that brings you homemade Mexican cultural cuisine including delicious molé on weekends and tamales and champurrado daily.