DANBURY, Conn. -- When he was growing up in Danbury, 28-year-old Jasson Arias said there was always a pot of hot beans and rice on the stove.
"My parents are from Guatemala. We would have black beans and white rice. This dish is a very common Latin American food," Arias said.
It should not be surprising that last year, when Arias decided to switch careers from bartending to operating a traveling food trailer, rice and beans was his first choice of a dish to serve up.
Within a short period of time, he purchased a food trailer, developed a catchy logo and began operating his business, called simply Rice and Beans in spring.
He was trained in making the food by a chef from Mezon Tapas Bar & Restaurant in Danbury, where he previously bartended.
For $5, customers can order a bowl of white, brown or green rice (made with Poblano peppers, Mexican cilantro and garlic), along with a serving of black beans.
Every dish is garnished with a whole tortilla chip, a serving of pico de gallo -- which is a mixture of onions, tomatoes, cilantro, garlic and lime -- and a slice of lime.
For an additional $3, customers can purchase bistek, a slow-cooked meal of beef, peppers, onions, cilantro and adobo or pollo guisado, a stewed chicken breast.
Arias also sells a dessert of rice pudding, garnished with cinnamon and mint.
"Everything is cooked when you arrive at the trailer," he said. "The meals are prepped the morning of the day they are served."
His trademark yellow trailer will travel all over Fairfield County. He can be found once a week, on varying days, at the Berkshire Corporate Park in Bethel as well as at Two Roads Brewing Company in Stratford. He was also at a Taste of Danbury.
As with any new business, he faced some challenges. "The first one was developing a brand. When you have something that will be your own, you want it to be perfect," said Arias, who has a bachelor's degree in business administration from Western Connecticut State University in Danbury.
Aside from serving dishes that take him back to his roots, he said he greatly enjoys the marketing part of his business. "I like going to businesses, introducing myself and the brand, and scheduling corporate lunches," he said.
He said he greatly enjoys being an entrepreneur. "I like that you can make your own hours. I get to be around my friends and family more often," Arias said. "Sometimes, I invite them to hang out with me while I am working."
Arias said he working with the City of Danbury to set up his trailer in the downtown area to "bring in more people to that end of town," he said.
His long-term plans include purchasing a second truck, serving breakfast and opening a Rice and Beans storefront.
Arias is developing an ongoing charity called the "Share Your Beans" program. Once a week for lunch, 100 percent of his profits will go into a "Share Your Beans" account to be given to someone in need. Customers will get to nominate who they would like to receive the donation.
"This is my way of giving back to the community. I want to develop a reputation as not just a business owner but also as someone who makes a difference," he said.
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