Recorded Stories

The First Marshallese Food Truck in Arkansas

By Judy Tatios
From Springdale, Arkansas

My name is Judy Tatios, I was born and raised in California. My parents came from the Marshall Islands in the 1950’s. My mom graduated from Costa Mesa High School in California. My dad went to college in Oklahoma and he travelled to California and met my mother.

I came out to Arkansas first and eventually brought my parents over. I saw an opportunity to fulfill a dream that I have, which is to start a Marshallese food truck. I’ve been dreaming of doing this for a long time. It seemed pretty challenging in California, but I saw a way and a great community here in Arkansas, so I decided to move here to go after my dream. I’ve been working as a chef at the same job for four years now and I’m slowly saving up money and working towards my dream.

Being Marshallese in Northwest Arkansas is pretty tough. There’s a lot of culture changes and in general just trying to fit into the community out here. The customs that we have are a lot different than the American tradition. We are very quiet and keep to ourselves, but at the same time we have the same struggles as everybody else and try our best to live the life that we want and deserve like everybody else.

Imagine coming from a whole different custom and tradition, a way of life, the island, which is a lot slower and a lot more laid back. It’s a lot faster here, and I have a lot of props for people out here making a beat for themselves. All of the warehouse workers at Tyson and George’s, and all of the essential workers, with COVID now happening, it’s just a whole different ballgame. I just give a lot of props to everyone that’s working out there especially the American community trying to help the Marshallese community out.

We appreciate all of the patience that everyone has given to our people. There’s just been a lot of tragedy going on, a lot of people losing their loved ones and the people we respect. This is a good time to give back and that’s exactly what you can feel everyone trying to doing.