Tito Chinchilla moved to the US from Santa Rosa, Guatemala in 2006 with big dreams in mind.
While he spent time as a groom and hotwalker for several well-known trainers such as Wayne Lukas, Mark Crossing, and Mike Maker, he additionally had interest in starting his own businesses, starting with a food truck called “Taqueria Santa Rosa” he started with his wife, Aricelda.
This would ultimately lead to the inception of a restaurant called “Tito’s Tacos,” named after both him and his brother-in-law, Eduardo, who also goes by “Tito.” With a location right by the track, he knew that this would be a strong opportunity for business. However, he mentions that his wife was the true inspiration for the restaurant.
“Cooking is all her. I just aim to support her when I can,” he remarked. “This is her passion. My passion is being a mechanic.”
Before arriving to the United States, Tito had been studying to be a mechanic in Guatemala. When he moved in 2006, his father helped him secure a job at a dealership where he received guidance from his dad’s friends on how to work on cars. He worked there while simultaneously working at Churchill Downs. While he was separated from his passion for a brief time, he ultimately opened his own mechanic shop, “Chinchillas.”
“Sometimes it’s a puzzle, some cars are really difficult to fix,” says Tito, “so working on “the puzzle” is always something I love doing.”
Moving to a new country and starting one’s own businesses can be a grueling challenge, but Tito says the Backside Learning Center played a pivotal role in helping him along his journey.
“You guys did a whole lot with me. I didn’t have a lot of time to attend English classes because I was working as a mechanic after working with the horses. However, I loved you guys and thought you were so important.”
Tito additionally remarked on help from the BLC with his citizenship. “You helped me so much on my path to citizenship. Sherry was a huge help with my citizenship and gave me lessons. She was a wonderful teacher. It was indispensable help. I was able to pass my citizenship test on the first try!”
The stress and challenges faced over the last couple of years due to the pandemic have not let up for Tito and his wife, but they have shown great perseverance amid the uncertainty and have remain committed to continuing their passions.
“If you have an opportunity or an idea of starting your own business, do it. Sometimes, an opportunity like that only happens once in a lifetime. If you don’t try, you won’t know what could happen. This country is full of many opportunities. Therefore, I encourage others to try. It’s easier here in the US.”