Meet the Merchant: Alejandra De la Fuente

Posted on 01/29/2018
Alejandra de la Fuente holding a Red Kitchen Tamales signNot so very long ago, Alejandra de la Fuente and a friend sold homemade tamales to people through Facebook as a fun side hustle. Last September, she took things a step further and began to serve tamales on Tuesdays in The Kitchen at the Lenexa Public Market as a popup restaurant called Red Kitchen Tamales. She soon developed enough of a following that she decided to quit her day job to devote more time to cooking for people, which is where her real passion lays.

Alejandra expanded operations into a food stand on the Market floor in late November 2017, and now serves a rotating menu of Mexican street food six days a week, including mouthwatering burritos, tacos, sandwiches, soups, chilaquiles and more. Her sunny, welcoming presence draws many a repeat customer. (And she's made so many tamales that by now she can probably assemble them in her sleep.)

We asked this budding entrepreneur a few questions about why she started her business and what she hopes to accomplish with it.

Q. Describe your business concept for the market. 
A. Authentic Mexican food. This is a completely new — and only — location.

Q. How did you come up with the idea?
A. The idea started when I missed the food from my home country. It was hard to find what is considered to be “authentic” Mexican food. I decided to cook with the flavors of my family recipes mixed with my favorite street foods. 

Q. What’s your title/role?
A. I’m the owner, operator, driver.

Q. What excites you about the Lenexa Public Market?
A. The idea of having a place that offers local establishments the feeling of a modern indoor place reminds me of an original Mexican market.

Q. What might surprise someone to know about your business?
A. That I started making tamales for the first time less then a year ago. 

Q. What makes your business unique?
A. I’ve been using only 100 percent Mexican ingredients and showing my customers what real Mexican food tastes like, while fighting the misconception that Tex-Mex is real Mexican food. 

Q. What is one thing you hope customers say after they leave your restaurant/shop?
A. That was delicious, I’ll be back.

Q. What made you get into this business?
A. The enjoyment of running my own business doing something I love. 

Q. What is the biggest challenge for you in opening a market stall?
A. There are so many items I want to bring to my customers.

Q. Why should people support local businesses?
A. Because they are supporting local families and their dreams. 

Q. What’s the coolest thing you’re working on?
A. Decorating my stall. 

Q. Favorite lunch spot?
A. Moti Mahal 1 (Indian Food). 

Q. Where might someone find you if you weren’t at work?
A. At one of my friends’ houses enjoying lunch or dinner or a simple talk.