Three years ago, Raymond Gonzalez was serving up tacos out of a cramped food truck in a parking lot near Lawrence General Hospital.
On Friday, Gonzalez was still dishing out tacos under the CocoRay's name, but this time from behind the counter of a new, full-service restaurant at 197 Parker St.
The restaurant, which held its grand opening Friday, represents the culmination of years of hard work and a host of community support.
“With all the money and the effort spent, it's a dream that finally come true,” Gonzalez said.
In the intervening years between his food truck and the restaurant, Gonzalez was the first tenant of the Revolving Test Kitchen, a project spearheaded by the partnership with help from Salvatore Lupoli, president and CEO of Lupoli Companies, Northern Essex Community College and Lawrence city officials. Since late 2016, the test kitchen has given its tenants -- first CocoRay's and now El Encanto -- the opportunity to test their restaurant models and gain business acumen in a real, rent-free, restaurant setting, with the goal of ultimately opening a restaurant on their own.