The discussion began at a Monday morning meeting at 9 a.m. PT.
The team at Los Angeles restaurant Guerrilla Tacos had just found out they had to close, leaving them with a problem: What to do with the leftover food?
Co-owner Brittney Valles, chef and fellow co-owner Wes Avila, and other members of the team put their heads together. Valles wanted to do something like a batch meal – but no Lean Cuisine vibes, she said. Something that felt fun and homey, the rest of the team agreed.
That’s how they got the idea for Emergency Taco Kits: five pounds of roasted chicken, five pounds of carne asada, a pint of red salsa, a pint of green salsa, tortillas, onions, cilantro, and rice and beans.
To help alleviate customers’ shopping needs amid coronavirus concerns, the restaurant also decided each kit should include emergency essentials: Four rolls of toilet paper and 30 eggs.
74 kits and counting
The decision to add toilet paper and eggs to the kits came after Valles’ mother called her from Costco. Her dad is older and has pre-existing conditions, she said. But her mom was still going out to buy supplies, including grocery essentials like eggs.
“I was like, ‘You can’t be around all those people,’” she told CNN. Then, genius struck. “‘Why don’t you get them from us?’”
And, because the restaurant has three bathrooms and has been left with a surplus of TP, they threw that in as well. Because why not?
It took about four hours after the morning meeting for Guerrilla Tacos to sell its first kit.
As of Tuesday afternoon, the restaurant had sold 74 kits, which are available for order on their website for $150.
The response has been great, Valles said, with customers thanking the restaurant for providing this kind of service.
“We’re really lucky,” Valles said.
Helping pay employees’ health insurance
The operation hasn’t just been good for the community, though. Since the restaurant had to close its doors, it hasn’t been able to pay staff.
With the kits, that changes. The restaurant is able to keep providing health and dental insurance to their employees, Valles said, even if they’re not working. And for the people they have to call in to help make the kits, they can also pay those employees. The more kits ordered, the more employees get to work.
It’s a multi-pronged plan, Valles explained. With the kits, they get to continue paying vendors and staff, though the actual restaurant isn’t really profiting.
“It’s about keeping us healthy and alive,” she said.
Starting Wednesday, they won’t just be doing the taco kits, either. They’ll also be slinging cold brew coffee kits from another LA vendor, Tiago Coffee Bar + Kitchen.
Because the taco kits have been a success so far, Guerrilla Tacos has been able to stay afloat – for now.
Countless other restaurants across the nation have been forced to close doors as a result of the novel coronavirus – with cases rising in the US each day, and health officials warning the situation will only worsen.
As long as people keep buying the kits, Valles said, Guerrilla Tacos will keep making them.