Fortitude Founder

Allen County
Founder Profile




Mercadito Taqueria



Grant Date

May 2019


Serving as hospitality leaders in the community providing great service and food inspired by our heritage.

Bringing the Latin flavors of Los Angeles street food to Fort Wayne.

Johnny Perez has been in the restaurant and hospitality industry for a while now, working with big names in the restaurant business. But now, he’s venturing on his own to create a food truck experience that is true to his own heritage and background.

Johnny’s story begins in high school. He studied culinary arts at Anthis, a program that helps students gain practical career skills at an earlier age. He went on to study culinary arts at Johnson & Wales University in Rhode Island and rounded out his education with a hospitality management degree from Purdue University Fort Wayne.

From there, he worked at BakerStreet, managed front-of-house at Hoppy Gnome, and became the head chef at Proximo. His behind-the-scenes work at these restaurants has been influential in the growth of the restaurant market in Fort Wayne.

He wants to make an even bigger splash with Mercadito Taqueria.

Mercadito means “little market” in Spanish. Mexican grocery stores often have taquerias tucked in the corner for shoppers to get authentic tacos and tortas. This space can serve as a gathering place for people in the community to share stories and gossip.

The food truck offers Los Angeles street food, but what exactly can you expect when you go to Mercadito Taqueria?

Los Angele is a hub for Latin-inspired food and flavors. Johnny offers stylized street food, globally-inspired options, and products with personal spins that are unique to Mercadito Taqueria.

Johnny supplements business from the food truck with catering options and will cater for your cat’s 5th birthday party (or weddings, quinceaneras, and company lunches).

Eventually, Johnny hopes to bring Mercadito Taqueria into the brick and mortar space as a fast-casual dining experience. In the long term, Mercadito Taqueria will become a full-service restaurant that provides bar service and flavorful sit-down experience.

Connect with Mercadito Taqueria on social media

Business Updates

Chef heads out on his own with food truck

For the past five years, Johnny Perez has spent his working hours in some of the most popular restaurants in Fort Wayne.

The South Side High School graduate, who pursued his culinary degree at Johnson & Wales University in Providence, Rhode Island, has worked at BakerStreet and managed front of the house at The Hoppy Gnome.

Focused on the Fork: Mercadito Food Truck

Mercadito Taqueria just started serving tacos, carne asada fries and street corn in the Fort a few months ago, but they’ve already developed quite the fan base.

After spending over a year in the kitchen at Proximo, Chef Johnny Perez decided to branch out on his own and like many young chefs he felt the best way to get started was with a food truck.

Mercadito Taqueria food truck opening a brick-and-mortar location in The Landing

A Fort Wayne food truck is opening up a restaurant in The Landing next summer.

Mercadito Taqueria announced the news on its Facebook page.

The new restaurant, dubbed “Mercado,” will feature a bar and some food items from their food truck.

Contact Johnny Perez