Have you met Christian Ziebarth? His story is kind of amazing. And it goes like this:
- Boy loves eating at Naugles
, a Mexican-American restaurant chain founded by a former Del Taco partner.
- Chain disappears after getting bought by Del Taco; but only after leaving an indelible mark on boy.
- Boy grows up into a man who loves Mexican food.
- Man blogs about Mexican restaurants
, including Naugles
- Man realizes that others love and miss Naugles as much as he does.
- Man hosts Naugles pop-ups
and gets rave reviews.
- Man goes to court for the right to use the Naugles trademark.
- Man wins case!
- Man opens Naugles
and serves the same food he loved as a boy.
- Now man is the owner of what's about to be a national franchise!
If a Hollywood producer ever gets wind of this underdog story, the elevator pitch might be "David versus Goliath" meets "Mr. Smith Goes To Washington" meets "Like Water For Chocolate".
On a personal note, I've known Christian for at least a decade. Christian and I started our food blogs about the same time (back when food blogs were still relevant), and he was *THE* first real human being to reach out beyond the virtual world of comment pages to ask me if we could meet in person.
If I remember correctly, we met at a restaurant in Tustin that doesn't even exist anymore. In the intervening years, Christian and I ate at many other restaurants together and with other bloggers.
Christian, you see--apart from being the entrepreneur, blogger, and all around Renaissance Man--brings people together.
And that's what he did again last night when he invited me and my guest to his restaurant in Fountain Valley along with other food bloggers for a Naugles feast.
We ate burritos filled with ooey-gooey cheese and taco salad in a cup wearing taco shell bunny ears. This is all the Mexican-American fast food classics you're familiar with, but way way better--sourced with quality ingredients and cooked earnestly.
If Del Taco is George Lucas making "The Phantom Menace"; the new Naugles is J.J. Abrams making "The Force Awakens".
Last night, I congratulated Christian on his triumph, but also reminisced about our food blogging days. But here's how much of a dedicated fan of Naugles Christian still is. When I told him I remembered going to Naugles during my own youth in La Habra before it turned into a Del Taco, I was struggling to recount the street corner it was located in. Without hesitation, Christian finished my sentence: "At Beach and Lambert!"
As I was leaving, I shook his hand and told him when I took the above picture: "I don't usually put pictures of people on my blog, but you, Christian, are a star!"
Naugles Corporate Kitchen
18471 Mt. Langley
Fountain Valley, CA 92708
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