El Come Taco and La Viuda Negra are working to hang on through the COVID-19 pandemic.
When COVID-19 hit, it forced both of the businesses to close and for the brothers to reevaluate if the restaurant and bar would be able to survive.
Before the pandemic, their takeout business was just about 30%, but to reopen, Luis said they had to come up with a new way of doing business.
The first thing they did was to build a window to service customers for takeout.
Something else that was important to Villalva was figuring out a way to adjust his employees' schedules to avoid laying them off. He managed, being able to keep and pay all the employees of the taqueria (many of whom are his family members).
El Come had closed its doors for nearly four months, and once they reopened, it was an adjustment for everyone. Villalva returned to ordering everyday supplies, and he immediately noticed price increases on items needed for the business.
The cost of necessities, from meat to tortillas to all the cleaning supplies, had increased by up to 20%. Due to the operating costs, Villalva not only had to raise the menu prices; his family took a leap of faith, funding new additions and changes themselves.
Those changes include an expanded patio seating with covered picnic tables on former parking spaces, something restaurants across Dallas are doing.
El Come Taco is also teaming up with different mezcal brands to offer food-and-drink pairings that include a three-course meal with complementing mezcals. (These dinners are RSVP-only; find more information on El Come's social media.)
At La Viuda Negra, the mezcal bar just next to El Come, they had to lay off the bar manager. Like so many other beverage-focused establishments, changes like this were necessary as the pandemic forced them to close their doors.
The good news is they were able to hire Hugo Osorio, formally of Bourbon & Banter, who brings vast experience and knowledge to the bar. He's also using his skills and creativity to keep the experience fun with new cocktails.
We expect Osorio to help La Viuda Negra stay one of the best mezcalerias in Dallas, and we've recently heard the small space appears to be fairly packed with customers.
“It’s hard to manage people and make sure they maintain social distancing,” Villalva says.
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The owner insists he and his team's top priority is the safety of guests and that they're doing all they can to maintain a safe environment.
All things considered, Villalva is grateful to be open and able to serve the community, but he's still skeptical as to how business will move forward: Hopefully, there's no second wave and the community knows his staff is doing its part to offer a safe and clean environment for all the customers, he says.
El Come Taco, 2513 N. Fitzhugh Ave. (Old East Dallas). 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday; 11 a.m. to midnight Friday and Saturday; 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday.
La Viuda Negra, 2513 N. Fitzhugh Ave. Open 6 p.m. to midnight Tuesday through Thursday; 6 p.m. to 2 a.m. Friday and Saturday. After El Come Taco closes, there is a limited food menu available at La Viuda.