Jimmy Carrano, the owner of Jimmy Avocado’s, has been cooking for pretty much his entire life. When he was growing up, his father ran restaurants and he would go in and do prep work with him for extra money. He began regularly working in restaurants as a teenager and completed culinary school in his twenties. He’s worked as both a private chef and a corporate chef but says running his own restaurant is more about passion. “I enjoy what I do. To quote the movie Chef: There are people who cook food they believe in,” he said. He has a lot of Hispanic influence in what he cooks because of the nature of kitchens and the people that are typically employed in them with whom he’s interacted.
Carrano started the food truck in the early part of 2021 and added the Marietta location in March of this year, at 212 Third Street. The Marietta restaurant has been a popular choice among the local community with them having been nominated for the Marietta Times Readers Choice Awards after being open for less than a year. The eatery is open Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday from 11:00 am to 3:00 pm and Tuesdays from 11:00 am to 9:00 pm. They’re adding a second location inside the food court at the Grand Central Mall that will hopefully be open in June. Starting soon, the food truck will be at Point Park every Wednesday evening during the free yoga at the point classes.
Jimmy Avocado’s offers a wide variety of flavorful menu options, including vegetarian and a true vegan menu with soy-based chorizo, tofu tacos, and plant-based cheese. All of their food is made from scratch with the exception of the tortillas and chips because they sell too many of them to have the time to make them themselves. They get some of their ingredients from local produce shops and a couple of the local meat markets. Carrano said his personal favorite dish they serve is the pork carnitas tacos, a soft corn shell filled with slow-roasted carnitas marinated in orange citrus zest, chipotle sauce, pickled red onions, and pineapple. “That citrus meeting with that caramelization pork gets when it’s slow-roasted in the oven is just awesome. I feel like you get a lot of the flavors you’d get from pork belly without that crispness of pork belly,” he described.
I just wanted to be able to give people good food and create an atmosphere that people wanted to work at and not feel like they were trapped into working there.
They currently have 12 employees, excluding Carrano himself. He does his best to treat his employees right by providing pay over minimum wage, offering full-time schedules to those that want them, and eventually, he wants to transition all of his employees to a four-day workweek to give them more time to live their lives. Their life outside of work is equally important to him. Some of the people working for him have been friends of his for years. “I just wanted to be able to give people good food and create an atmosphere that people wanted to work at and not feel like they were trapped into working there. There’s that whole cliche of we’re a family, not a team, but I really feel like we’re a family. I want to make a million dollars, but if that takes me a few extra years and I take care of my people, that’s how I want it to be,” he stated.
When you walk into the Marietta location you’re greeted with Mexican music and an inviting atmosphere. The restaurant theme is modeled after restaurants he visited in Mexico that are made to be almost like walking into someone’s home. The art on the walls is a combination of gifts from Carrano’s children and friends and local artists. The art done by local artists is for sale and the artists receive all the profit from the sales. Avocado plushies made by the Wood County Society and the Artbeat Studio are also available for purchase and the profits all go back to those organizations. They also sell cookies from Big Tom’s Cookies and fresh-made marshmallows from Tezze Delicacies and Treats. The Grand Central Mall location will feature an exclusive Chipotle chocolate chip cookie from Big Tom’s Cookies.
Carrano believes community is an important part of running a local business. He encourages people to hang flyers for local events. Eventually, he wants to put a board up in the restaurant to advertise other local small restaurants. “There are so many different types of businesses that help market each other and restaurants don’t do it because I feel like they always feel like it’s a competition. But at the end of the day, if somebody comes in here, they’re coming in for tacos. They’re not coming in here for pizza. They’re not coming in here for a burger. They’re not coming in here for anything like that, you know?”
Carrano said there are so many different varieties of food around town. “Tel Aviv that has the Greek style food and Lebanese style cuisine, you’ve got Star of India that has Indian style food, and there are several bars around here that while they might have some things that clash, they offer a really good gastropub menu,” he said. “The Busy Bee offers pretty much brunch all the time. You’ve got your higher-end places, the Levee House Bistro, Benny & Babe at the Buckley, all those places. I feel like they would respect me saying, ‘Hey, if you don’t like tacos, why don’t you check out all these other great local restaurants as opposed to going to Applebee’s or somewhere like that?’ It’s the character and it just helps to build the local community,” he explained.
Carrano really wants to help spark the movement of making the area better and helping to be part of the solution. He wanted to create something bigger than himself with this business. “The best part of this has been the sense of accomplishment. I’m a dreamer to a tee and I have a new one every 47 minutes, so on a personal level, it’s finally following through with something,” he said. “On a bigger level, it’s realizing it’s not just a taco truck now, it’s a feasible future business that can change all the things I want to change. I’m never going to be Elon Musk level able to change things, but I could be Parkersburg, Marietta, Mid-Ohio Valley level and that’s kind of what I’m shooting for. Every day I feel like I’m a little bit closer.”