Scott Wooley doesn't have an office. Instead, you’ll find him perched at the end of the bar at So-Cal Tacos, the restaurant he owns in Grapevine. In front of him sits a computer, which he frequently leaves so he can run a plate of “gnarly nachos” to a guest, clear a table, or make sure every detail of his dining room is in order. There’s a distinct Southern California vibe in the restaurant from the surfboards that decorate the wall right down to Scott’s laid back, surfer-dude accent. He carries himself like a guy who’s been in the restaurant industry his entire life. But he truth is, he’s relatively new to the business.
So-Cal Tacos was born when Scott was given a second chance. In 2010, he was diagnosed with a Brachial Plexus nerve tumor. It was inoperable, so the only thing doctors could do was prescribe pain medication. Doped up and depressed, Scott lost hope. He worried about his wife and how their three children would grow up without a father. Then one Sunday at Gateway’s NRH Campus, he went to Pastor Kam Hunt at the altar to receive prayer for his pain. But Kam didn’t pray for his pain—he prayed for his healing.
“I never thought to pray for healing,” says Scott, a Gateway member since 2010. “I always prayed that God would help me manage the pain.” He didn’t think much about it until the next day when he woke up with no pain at all. After a few weeks of feeling great, he met with his neurosurgeon who ran a series of scans. “His jaw hit the floor,” says Scott. “He told me ‘There’s nothing there—it’s gone!’”
Scott felt like he was given a fresh start and a story to tell. So he quit his high paying job in real estate and bought a food truck. “We prayed about it and almost overnight we created the brand for So-Cal Tacos,” says Scott. However, when all excitement around his plan subsided, he began having doubts. Was he really supposed to take a risk this big, especially now that he and his wife were expecting a fourth child?
The feeling of uncertainty lasted until a friend called and said he had a message from God. “He told me to read Luke 9:13,” says Scott, pointing out that this friend isn’t exactly a theologian. “It’s the verse where Jesus tells his disciples to feed the 5,000. In that moment, I knew what I had to do.” With that confirmation, Scott dove into his new business venture.
The first year was difficult, but he and his first employee (who still works with him today) stayed focused on the goal of sharing his story and blessing the community. They devised a plan in which all of the tips the food truck received each month would be given away to struggling individuals, families, and single parents. “From the beginning, we identified that our tip money needed to be given away,” says Scott. “I was barely paying my bills at home, but I was able to give people cash to pay for monthly mortgage payments and car payments.”
Scott didn’t run his food truck with profits in mind, but instead he focused on how he could use it to help others. Over time, business started booming. On October 15, 2012, the first year anniversary of the So-Cal Tacos food truck, he was invited to serve tacos to Gateway Conference attendees and volunteers. “Guess how many people we served that day?” he asks. “Five thousand! Isn’t that radical?”
But shortly after that day—the most successful one in the truck’s history— God told Scott to do the unthinkable. “He told me to close the truck,” he says. “I didn’t understand it. We were doing so much good for so many people. But God just said, ‘trust Me.’”
Scott obeyed, but he became depressed for a few months until his business partner called with a question: “Have you ever thought of turning the food truck concept into a restaurant?” After a few meetings, a deal was inked, and just over a year ago the first So-Cal Tacos restaurant opened on Hall-Johnson Road in Grapevine.
The restaurant concept has been so successful that Scott will be expanding to new locations very soon. “We’ll add one more store this year and after that we’ll begin
to double on an annual basis,” he says. But he hasn’t lost sight of the original goal of the restaurant—building the kingdom. “Our culture is to give love, receive love, repeat the process,” he says.
A few months ago, at the restaurant’s one-year anniversary party, a woman sat next to Scott’s wife, Susan, and they began talking. The woman, a single mother of four, had no idea about So-Cal’s history, but when she found out the restaurant started as a food truck, she started to cry. Several years ago, she had been struggling financially. Her church, Compass Christian in Colleyville, asked Scott if he would donate money to help the woman, and he gave $1,800 but never knew what happened after that. All she knew was that a man who runs a taco truck donated the money.
The night of the party, the woman made the connection and was able to tell Scott and his wife about the difference So-Cal Tacos had made in her life. She told him the words her son said when she received the tip money several years ago—words that go so well with what Jesus told His disciples in Luke 9:13: “Mom, that means we can eat!”