PORTSMOUTH, Va, (WAVY) — A local businesswoman who’s served the community for several years now needs help.
If you’ve been to the Portsmouth Courthouse around lunchtime, you’ve probably seen her food cart and maybe even enjoyed a meal. However, the woman known for her tasty food has fallen on hard times.
Marleen Rodriguez opened her food truck, La Cocina de Marleena, in November of 2018. It’s her passion, her baby, and her happy place. However, 2020 and 2021 have not been easy for her. The coronavirus pandemic, surgery and equipment failure have her asking for support from the community she loves to feed.
“This is what I love to do,” said Rodriguez. “You like food? I got you.”
Rodriguez treats every customer with love, so it’s no surprise that she built up a steady stream of hungry patrons since she first started the business.
She was used to lines down the sidewalk, until the pandemic shut everything down.
“March came, COVID hit, I went from like 25 to 35 customers a day to like six or seven,” said Rodriguez.
It was a financial hit, but she was determined to get through it, opening up as she could.
“The rain washed away my COVID lines but they were there,” Rodriguez said.
Just when it seemed like things were picking up, she had her appendix removed. Then, earlier this week, her truck broke down.
“That’s part of my livelihood because I can’t pick up supplies, I can’t move this to another location when I have to be there, you know what I’m saying, so that’s like really hindering me,” said Rodriguez.
She also needs to replace parts on her food truck’s grill.
Her daughter set up an online fundraiser to help.
“Just to know that people, first off I know I’m not the only one struggling, but people know my struggle and they know me,” Rodriguez said. “Even if they don’t know me personally, they know me through here and they see the type of passion and love that I put into everything that I do.”
She’s hoping the love from the community helps her get back on her feet, so she can keep loving and feeding them.
You can find the online fundraiser by clicking here.
BELOW: In November 2020, Marleen Rodriguez told her story about moving from New York and starting her own food truck.