For Ozzy Perez and his wife Diana — the success of their restaurant on 17th Ave and Southern in the heart of South Phoenix — has come with lots of hard work and a step-by-step approach.
“I was a sales rep for Frito Lay for several years. My wife, she had her job. I had my job. We were just normal people,” said Ozzy Perez.
But Ozzy Perez had a dream. Open up his own taco and marsico restaurant — and start sharing the food he’d been cooking at home — with people across Phoenix.
“Just all of the sudden I told my wife: “We should buy a food truck and I’ll quit my job. She just looked at me like I was crazy,” said Ozzy with a smile.
“I just looked at him and said are you crazy. We both had great paying jobs. He had a great paying job. I don’t know what he was thinking. Like…why did you want a food truck,” said Diana Perez.
Diana wasn’t sold on the idea, but she compromised. She knew her husband had a knack for cooking great food — but wasn’t sure if that would translate to a food truck.
“I would always cook at home, but I just had a vision that I could do something on my own with cooking. I took my wife’s no, as a not now. But I kept on insisting,” said Ozzy Perez.
Diana sensed the passion in her husband but wanted to see practical results. So in 2014, the couple took their first step towards Ozzy’s dream of opening a restaurant.
“In the meantime I bought him a taco cart so it could take away the itch. I told him you can train yourself with the taco cart. We utilized the cart for making tacos, cooking for the family and from there it went to catering because people were asking if we cater. Because obviously the tacos were delicious. Then Ozzy continued with “can I have a food truck?” I’m like no. Finally, I said you know what, buy yourself a hotdog cart. So then he started doing Sonoran hotdogs,” said Diana.
Those hotdogs quickly became a hit. Ozzy and Diana would work their 9 to 5, Monday through Friday and then would set up the hotdog cart every weekend anywhere they could — like storefronts, swap meets and catering gigs. For almost 2 years, they plugged away with the hotdog cart, until the opportunity for a real food truck finally arrived. In 2016 Ozzy and Diana were finally ready to buy a taco truck.
“And why we jumped on it, was because he proved to me that the food was delicious, and people really wanted it and he was selling so much that we were like, what’s going on?” said Diana.
That taco truck was a mainstay on 67th Ave. and Buckeye in the West Valley for a little more than a year. People absolutely loved the food. In 2017 it was time to take the next step to a brick and mortar restaurant at 1717 W. Southern Ave. in Phoenix.
“We were waiting for a good opportunity to jump on and this came on board and we jumped in. I was familiar with the area because of my old Frito Lay route: Southern, Broadway, Baseline. So I knew the potential that was here. I knew what could have gone wrong. I was very confident of taking over this place because of that. It’s a lot of local people that have been living here forever. And here in South Phoenix they really like to support their local businesses,” said Ozzy.
Ozzy and Diana’s step-by-step approach has paid off. Ozzy’s tacos y Marsicos is becoming more popular each day. With a menu that features a variety of tacos, seafood and Sonoran Hotdogs — you can’t go wrong when you bring the family here.
“Our menu is based on many different items. We go from tacos, to Mexican seafood, to ceviche’ and aguachiles, to sushi…to Sonoran hotdogs,” said Ozzy Perez.
“We based it on a family concept. One person may want seafood, but the other person wants tacos and another wants a Sonoran dog. Our menus trigger all the points. You can go to Sr. Ozzy’s and get all those trigger point,” said Diana Perez.
One of the most popular items on the menu is a mountain of seafood delight called the Mixta.
“So it’s one of our top sellers. It comes with: imitation crab meat, ceviche at the very bottom, then we have shrimp ceviche in the middle, and on the top we have a little bit of aguachile, with semi raw shrimp, octopus, scallops and red onions, with some cooked shrimp around it and we top it off with some avocado,” said Ozzy.
Another dish everyone loves is their Shrimp and Cheese taco topped with their secret chipotle sauce that I had to give a try.
Then maybe my favorite at Ozzy’s was their Avocado Roll!
“It’s a natural roll. It has imitation crab and shrimp inside with our base topping which is Philadelphia cheese, cucumber, and avocado, we top it off with avocado. Our toppings are breaded chopped shrimp, with a green onion and topped with Aguila sauce. Topped with their Chipotle sauce,” said Ozzy.
Ozzy’s has great food and fun times. On Friday nights you can Karaoke from 8pm to 11pm. Then on Sunday’s there’s a live band all afternoon long. You can catch your favorite sporting event on one of the tv’s at every angle. Ozzy has a love of food but he also loves sports. “I’m a huge soccer fan. We were catering out of that Phoenix Rising games and our tacos were a hit. I think I enjoyed just being out at the games just as much as selling food. When you come here you’ll see a lot of soccer on the big screens and on Sunday’s we have all the football games playing,” said Ozzy.
The restaurant recently partnered with Hispanic radio station 106.7 to bring players from the Mexican professional baseball league to eat there. The teams played in the Fiesta tournament sponsored by the radio station. Popular DJ Humberta “Vaquero” Luna says the restaurant was the perfect place to bring the players. “The food is great here and the players loved it. We love Sr. Ozzy’s. It’s a great family restaurant and our partnership with 106.7 is a perfect fit,” said Luna.
As for the future, both Ozzy and Diana say they want the business to grow with the same approach they’ve always taken, step-by-step. “I like to say we take it one taco at a time. I’d like to franchise the restaurant. When we are ready we’ll take that step. But for now we are concentrating on this restaurant and building our clientele. People in south Phoenix are really liking our food,” said Ozzy.
“We have a 4.5 on YELP and that’s very hard to get. Maybe a lot of locals are learning about us and once they come inside they love the food and we’re making a nice impact in the community,” said Diana.
“One thing I always did was believe in what I was doing and always make sure we execute the right way and that’s what’s going to keep us in business. And now we have others that we rely on as employees, that also rely on us to pay their bills. So it’s great to see all the support,” said Ozzy.
You can find Ozzy’s at 1717 W. Southern Avenue Phoenix, AZ 85041
Ozzy’s can cater, they have a drive thru and you can order anytime on Uber Eats.