Targeting Spanish-speaking riders, Taxis Fiesta’s business blossoms as Hispanic communities spread across the city
Latino growth drives cab boom
— reported by the Houston Chronicle
IN the two decades since Roman Martinez launched a tiny fleet of cabs, the growth of the business now called Taxis Fiesta has tracked the booming spread of Houston’s Hispanic community.
From the 18 cabs with bilingual drivers that initially serviced Spanish-speaking customers in the Near Northside and East End barrios, Fiesta now takes calls from beyond Beltway 8. Business is most brisk around Gulfton and Spring Branch in the southwest and, increasingly, the far northwest.
The 14 calls Fiesta got on its first day of business have multiplied into nearly 500,000 dispatched calls annually. A half-million more customers are picked up by drivers at Hispanic supermarkets, Latino-aimed bus companies and through direct cell calls to cabbies.
A handful of Mexican-American drivers in 1985 has grown to a team of 220 cabbies who hail from throughout Latin America. Almost all of them own their cabs and operate small businesses on wheels.
Since 1985, said Eschbach, the Hispanic population has tripled, and now two of every five Harris County residents are Hispanic. Hispanics are becoming the dominant population group in most areas out to and past Beltway 8. The exceptions are the historically black neighborhoods northeast and south of downtown and high-dollar white communities from West University Place through Uptown and Memorial.
Fiesta has become steeped in community work. Officials mentor schoolchildren, underwrite neighborhood events and sponsor numerous activities.
The company’s holiday gift to the community is Pancho Claus, a Hispanic-themed Santa created by Richard Reyes, former director of Teatro Bilingue de Houston. Through the season, Reyes will tour the barrios, visit schools and attend other gift-giving venues in Fiesta’s public relations lowrider.