Primo Maldonado is a busy guy.
At 10:30 a.m. on Tuesday, people were already lining up for lunch at his restaurant.
Toñita’s Taco Shop opened in Beatrice on Saturday and they’ve already started to grow a following. While there are plenty of places to get Mexican food in Beatrice, Toñita’s is the only one in town that serves traditional Mexican fast food favorites.
Chances are, if you’ve driven by the old Dairy Queen building at 500 W. Court Street, you’ve noticed the Toñita’s sign that went up a few months ago.
It’s been about a year since Maldonado started planning for Toñita’s, but the process really started to pick up about three months ago.
“Put in new everything inside,” Maldonado said. “Brand new kitchen. Brand new everything. I've been working for three months. Every day.”
The inside of the taco shop is bright reddish orange color. The front door—including the handle—has been painted that same orange.
That orange color even extends to the menu, which is as vast as it is flavorful. Featuring burritos, tostadas, tacos, enchiladas, chile rellenos, nachos, chimichangas and more, the menu boasts a selection of nine different kinds of meat as well as a full breakfast menu that’s served all day.
The restaurant opens at 6 a.m. for breakfast, which is when Maldonado arrives to get everything made fresh. All of the foods are made right on site—including the sweet, creamy horchata—by Maldonado and the six employees who work at Toñita’s.
Maldonado’s wife, Maria, and their son, Mateo, stopped by for a visit on Tuesday afternoon, just as a truck dropped off a delivery of fresh food.
The past couple of decades, Maldonado has been moving around the country and working in various restaurants. He spent three years in San Diego and a year in Los Angeles before moving to Las Vegas for four years. He also spent 18 years in Arizona.
Maldonado has been working in different restaurants around Nebraska for about two years, including, most recently, the six months he spent in Crete. The people he worked with told him Beatrice would be a good place to open a taco shop, because there wasn’t really anything like it. He’s happy here, he said, and he really likes the people in Nebraska.
Toñita’s is open seven days a week, at the counter or at the drive-thru, from 6 a.m. until 11 p.m. Monday through Thursday and until 1:30 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. They’re also open from 8 a.m. until 11 p.m. on Sundays.
“It's different,” Maldonado said. “It's a taco shop, so fast food. It's more easy for the people, for me and for everybody.”
An area organization will once again be spreading holiday cheer to seniors this season with a program aimed at making sure every tree has a gift under in.
Home Instead Senior Care of Beatrice is participating in the Be a Santa for a Senior program, which asks members of the community to provide a gift for a senior.
Linda Clabaugh of Home Instead said a lot of people don’t realize how much need there is, and how many seniors are alone for the holidays.
“Sometimes, people just assume they have family,” she said. “I didn’t realize how many were alone until we actually started doing the program. Based on the thank you notes we got last year, it’s pretty amazing how appreciative these people were.”
Six Christmas trees can be found at area businesses in Beatrice, including Clabaugh Pharmacy, both Pinnacle Bank locations, both Security First Bank locations and the Beatrice Senior Center.
Each of the trees have cards on them that list a gift you can buy for a senior in need. Unwrapped donations can then be placed under the tree to be collected and distributed.
The gifts will be collected up until Dec. 8, and Clabaugh said they consist of smaller things, like a throw blanket or a pair of gloves.
“It’s not much, it’s just the thought that they were remembered,” she said. “It’s a really good program.”
She added that last year, there were around 60 seniors signed up to receive gifts and there are around 80 this year, though the organization is seeking more. Anyone who knows a senior who would benefit from a holiday gift is encouraged to contact Home Instead at 402-228-2080 for more information.
Clabaugh said these names are not used for marketing purposes or approached by the business for any reason other than to receive a gift.
After the gifts are collected, Home Instead will host a wrapping party before they are distributed later this season.