Scott Young, News Editor
Aurelia Gowen was born in Tejulpico, Mexico and learned everything she knows about Mexican cuisine from her parents.
Now, Aurelia Gowen and her husband, Shane Gowen, own Heirloom Taco, a niche taco restaurant on Jacksonville Public Square that serves authentic Mexican cuisine.
Aurelia and Shane Gowen are from Austin, Tx. and have lived in the Jacksonville area for several years. Their reason for opening the restaurant was because they both felt that something was missing in the community.
“It just felt like this would be the perfect place to start something like this,” said Aurelia Gowen. “It just filled a niche in the community.”
Shane Gowen started out working at Roma’s Pizza and Steakhouse in Jacksonville and has worked at Hubbard’s Off Main in Oxford. He now works as a sous chef at Garfrerik’s Cafe and Catering in Oxford.
“My parents back in Austin have a food truck,” said Aurelia Gowen. “They do Mexican food, so I’ve been around it my whole life. I would wake up at six in the morning and help [mom] make tortillas.”
Aurelia Gowen said that many of the recipes that the restaurant uses are from her mother and that many of them are “hybrids”.
“My dad was really big into cooking,” she said. “It’s what my family bonds over as most Mexican families do. Food and life bring us together.”
Heirloom Taco features a variety of tacos including carne asada, pollo verde, brisket barbacoa and side items such as elotes (street corn), duros and fried avocado.
“We started off with a fairly large menu,” she said. “We learned the first day that we were a little too adventurous with it, so we cut down to the basics.”
On December 17, the day of the restaurant’s grand opening, Heirloom Taco announced that they were sold out and that they didn’t anticipate such a high turnout.
“I feel like it was really helpful with introducing the community to the different things we have to offer,” she said. “As we get our staff trained, we’ll slowly expand the menu.”
The owners have expressed gratitude to the Jacksonville community for being supportive of the new restaurant since it opened.
“We love food and that’s how we show our love,” said Aurelia Gowen.
Stan Gowen, another one of the owners, gave more insight into the restaurant’s second day, which he characterized as “crazy”.
“We had a lot of to go orders and people waiting two or two and a half hours,” said Stan Gowen. “Aurelia was very upset. She wanted to give everybody their money back and a gift certificate. She announced it to all the people who waited two hours and nobody came up.”
Stan Gowen said that one woman walked to the cashier after the announcement and said, “I just wanna wait for my food.”
“That to me was the most generous outpouring of community support we have ever had and that touches me. We get tons of compliments and everyone seems to be very happy we’re here.”
Heirloom Taco is open Monday through Thursday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 5 p.m. to 8 p.m, Friday and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. and are closed on Sunday.