Mareo Torito was born and raised in Nagoya, Japan. He was the middle child of three boys. Mareo’s father made a modest living as a writer on politics and economics, but he ultimately struggled to make ends meet. As the country suffered from a deep post-war depression, the Toritos often struggled to put food on the table. His poor and hungry childhood simply made Mareo more ambitious. He often spent afternoons searching behind the laundry mat for loose coins that he saved in a piggy bank; these savings were meant to one day “buy America.”

This brazen goal was typical for a boy who, from the very beginning, had entered the world with a determination to do things his own way. His name, which means “strange birth,” was given to him after he was close to a month late on arrival. Just like his birth, Mareo’s life has been unconventional. He attended Meiji University where he studied French literature. In order to pay his way through college, Mareo began working for the restaurant chain, Yoshinoya Beef Bowl.

This company later sent him to the United States. In the US, Mareo worked at slicing beef for export back to Japan. Around this time, he met his future wife, Maylis. An immigrant as well, Maylis and Mareo shared lofty goals and humble roots. The pair made their living slicing beef, then owning and running a restaurant, and ultimately buying Red Bird Farms. Mareo applied his hard earned experience as a butcher and restauranteur into his next project of chicken.

Today, Mareo and Maylis live in Denver, Colorado. Their son runs the family restaurants, while their daughter is learning the ropes as an apprentice at Red Bird Farms. Although Mareo loves to visit Japan, his life in the US has given him great satisfaction. And in the end, if he can’t “buy America,” it may be just as wonderful to be a part of it.