A lo Perucho JMO’s store in Woodhaven started out as a food truck in Corona. Credit: @Deirofilms

Piero Tasaico immigrated from Lima five years ago, at 18, and went into business with his father, selling traditional Peruvian food out of a cart on 97th Street and Roosevelt Avenue.

Tasaico’s only experience cooking was in prep work: peeling potatoes for an aunt’s business in Lima. But he wanted to learn. So Tasaico took to YouTube, taking a crash course in Peruvian cuisine from the likes of Rodrigo Fernandini, an internationally renowned chef.  

“We are in a foreign country, you know what I mean?” said Tasaico in Spanish. “So to show [others] my little Peru is something, to bring them what is Peruvian gastronomy, which is considered one of the best in the world, [it matters].”

Piero Tasaico took to YouTube to learn to cook Peruvian cuisine. Credit: @Deirofilms

Tasaico’s self-learning worked. The cart became such a hit, they invested in a food truck together. Putting in 7 a.m. to 1 a.m. shifts, Tasaico and his father eventually burned out. Forced to take a six-month break in the winter of 2021, during the omicron wave, the father-son duo emerged ready to take another step forward. They hatched plans while plugging away. 

Meanwhile, Tasaico had been delving into TikTok, and it paid off: his simple 15-second videos showcasing A lo Perucho JMO’s food aesthetics were inviting. The videos were often set to salsa music, including the iconic song “Me Sabe a Peru” (“It tastes like Peru to me”) by Grupo Niche. Some of his videos went near-viral, amassing more than 100K views. 

TikTok videos of the truck went near-viral and helped grow A lo Perucho JMO’s customer base. Credit: @Deirofilms

In October of 2023, Tasaico and his father finally made the jump to a brick-and-mortar restaurant at the first affordable venue they could get, located in Woodhaven. The storefronts in Corona, where they had been based, were too in-demand. 

But that also meant they were leaving behind physical proximity to the community that had bolstered their business. While Jamaica Avenue is a bustling street, the activity wasn’t anywhere near Corona levels. 

Still, they kept the faith. 

“I mean, people were always praising the food, letting us know how good our seasoning was — well, my mom’s seasoning; she’s the one who cooks,” Tasaico said in Spanish. His mother immigrated a year ago, just after A lo Perucho JMO opened. His cousins, with whom Tasaico had grown up as siblings, also work in the restaurant.

A lo Perucho JMO’s food brings customers from as far away as Miami. Credit: @Deirofilms

The key to drumming up business was to spread the word. Tasaico leveraged the new-old standby, TikTok. Soon enough, they were serving visitors from as far away as Miami. Tasaico isn’t sure what resonates so much with other immigrants — not just those from Peru but also from Colombia and Argentina. Maybe it was that universal longing for home, he says, which popular meat-rich plates like anticuchos and lomo saltado would help soothe. 

The goal is to expand the business, also operating an A lo Perucho food truck at its original home in Corona. While Tasaico still misses his life in Lima, it helps that his family works and lives alongside him: “We, the Tasaico family, are very united — more than a company,” Tasaico said. “We are a machine.”

A lo Perucho JMO

94-16 Jamaica Ave, Woodhaven, Queens

Sunday, Wednesday, Thursday 9 a.m.-9 p.m.

Monday 9 a.m.-5 p.m.

Friday 10 a.m.- 9 p.m. 

Saturday 9 a.m.-9:30 p.m.

(718) 880-1043

Follow on TikTok at pierotasaico01.

Check out more of our small business stories here.

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