LINCOLN, NE – After seven years of business in Lincoln, Pepe’s Bistro is closing on Thursday.

Owner Pepe Fierro, who is known in Lincoln for his Mexican-style sweet potato wraps, enchiladas florentine and avocado cheesecake, says it’s time to begin a new chapter for the vegan/vegetarian business.

Two years ago, Fierro moved to the Indian Village Shopping Center from the Havelock neighborhood. He had plans for what the bistro could become, and business was going so well that Fierro even considered opening a sweets shop in a nearby space.

But as more restaurants opened in recent years, Fierro said he has seen a steady decline in his sales. “When the sales dropped, there was no way that (expanding the bistro) was going to happen,” he said.

It isn’t an expansion in the traditional sense, but Fierro now has plans for a new business model — serving his unique style of “veggie Mex” from his banana-colored food truck at events around Lincoln.

And thanks to about $2,500 raised through Kickstarter, he’ll be able to do so powered by solar energy. Fierro will receive a solar-powered generator and panels in July, which he’ll install on his food truck. He also has plans for adding a bike-powered smoothie machine.

Bold Nebraska has donated a solar cooker, which Fierro said he can attach to the outside of his truck. The cooker’s satellite dish acts as a reflector for sunlight, superheating the grill.

Ben Gotschall, local foods director for Bold Nebraska, said the solar cooker was left behind during the Great March for Climate Action when it came through Nebraska about two years ago.

“They (the marchers) had left it behind because they didn’t have room for it,” Gotschall said. “We donated it to Pepe because he has the ambition to having as much of a solar-powered restaurant as he can.”

It’s all part of Fierro’s mission to run a business that is environmentally sustainable.

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