A night in the life: Fajita Man


Mark Motsche grills fajitas at the Fajita Man cart while keeping up a conversation with a couple of his regular customers.

Audra Kincart

Pink Floyd plays on a stereo while Mark Motsch throws another tortilla on the grill, well into his typical weekend night.

Motsch is the owner and operator of popular late-night food cart Fajita Man located on Welch Avenue across from Pizza Pit. Motsch operates Friday and Saturday nights from 11 p.m. to 3 a.m., weather permitting.


Motsch starts setting up as early as Wednesday. His commissary is located in Indianola, which is where the cart gets stored and is towed from every weekend.

“Everything starts on Wednesday to get ready for the weekend. We start prep and getting inventory and all that kind of stuff,” Motsch said.

It’s a team effort between Motsch and his wife. Although Motsch does the cooking on weekend nights, he says his wife does about 75 percent of the work outside of that.

Motsch also prepares by checking the weather report. During the winter months when temperatures at night can feel as low as 15 below, Motsch will not be in service.

Motsch said Fajita Man’s prime time was during the week of Veishea when the stand would open at 8:30 p.m. and close at 4:30 a.m.


11 p.m. 

His first customer, Mallory Wilson, sophomore in elementary education, said the food keeps her coming back to the stand.

“Fajita Man is good any hour of any day,” Wilson said.

Motsch’s regular customers refer to themselves as lieutenants. Three years ago, a lieutenant came up with the idea of making shirts for the other regular customers. 

A Facebook competition ensued where customers could submit a slogan and the slogan with the most “likes” won.

Now, Motsch sells shirts with the slogan “Fajita Man, Best Kept Secret on Welch” scrawled across the front, with the infamous silhouette of a cart and umbrella.

11:31 p.m. 

A group of boys stumble to the stand and all order a fajita. One decided to order two.

A regular customer said he continues to come to the stand because he knows it will be available throughout the night. 

“We’re going to a party and we’ll come back here. Its way better at the end of the night, when we’re like ‘Mark, you’re my last go to. I love you,’” said Brandon Romans, Fajita Man regular and junior in mechanical engineering.

One of the group members earned $1 off on his fajita because he had the Fajita Man T-shirt that Motsch sells.

“Every time you wear the shirt whenever you order a fajita you get a discount,” Motsch said.

12 a.m.

Business began to pick up around this hour as more customers came to get their fajita cravings satisfied.

Alex, one of Motsch’s two employees, had his first night on the job Friday evening.

Alex acted as a sort of a liaison between customers and Motsch, so Motsch could better focus on cooking while someone else tends to money.

“I like mine spicy, it tastes better with beer,” Alex advised some customers.

On top of that, Alex keeps an eye on those under the influence so no “funny business” happens, Motsch said.

12:40 a.m.

Brett Pudenz, sophomore in pre-business, said Motsch and his stand represent something greater than tortillas stuffed with grilled meat. 

“The Fajita Man is just living the American dream right now. He’s opened his own business. He’s trying to build the economy right now,” Pudenz said while stuffing a hot fajita in his mouth.

Motsch has just initiated another social media campaign, too.

Students can submit a photo of themselves wearing their Fajita Man shirts during their Spring Break at whatever location they’re at.

Whichever post gets the most “likes” wins. The winner gets free fajitas for the next year. More information can be found on the Fajita Man Facebook page.

1 a.m.

With steady business during the last hour, things don’t seem to be slowing down.

With the Superdog stand being just 20 feet away, one would assume competition is tense. That’s the opposite of their relationship.

“We’re very passionate about it. You just got to stay humble and try not to create a division. I’ve known those guys for all nine years. We kind of watch each other,” Motsch said.

Students have their reasons as to why they chose one stand over the other.

Another student, Cole Pudenz, sophomore in pre-business, said Fajita Man is “the best thing on Welch.”

“I’ve had it sober and drunk and its good as hell,” Pudenz said. 

3:30 a.m.

The last fajita was sold at 3:15 a.m. and Motsch and Alex decided to clean the cart up and go home.

20 minutes later, the cart was hooked back up to Motsch’s car and ready to go back to Indianola.

However, it isn’t until 5:30 when Motsch crawls into bed after another eventful night of being a part of college students’ lives and their social lives.

Motsch, fortunately, shuts his eyes with the comforting thought of waking up around 11 a.m. or noon to start the process all over again.