Soul Taco is a Southern and Latin American fusion restaurant with a California twist and bold flavors. They were built on the belief that nothing brings people together better than great food, and that in the modern world, fusing people through food expresses a deep love, respect and reverence for cultures and their traditions. Their kitchen provides local, sustainable and eco-friendly products whenever possible and they are highly committed to giving back to their local community and being active members in ensuring its growth.
Soul Taco has had to completely shift their business model due to COVID-19. For starters, they had to shift service to strictly accommodate to-go and delivery customers which was completely out of the norm for them since most of their clientele tend to dine in. They had to quickly figure out the new habits of their regular customers and accommodate them by changing their menu to offer taco kits and large scale family meals that made more sense for dining out during COVID. The most significant change however was the fact that Soul Taco was forced to furlough a majority of their staff immediately after the pandemic hit, being one of the most difficult decisions they had to make during this time. However, they made sure that their furloughed staff was taken care of by collecting tips, via a virtual tip jar, setting up Financial literacy classes, feeding them for free and working with their food purveyors to get them access to fresh food and produce at either no cost or greatly reduced costs.
Like many other industries, restaurants have been greatly affected as a result of COVID-19 which required Soul Taco to adapt. When the pandemic hit, they immediately went into problem solving mode and came together to come up with innovative solutions that made sense for both the business and their guests’ needs.
Soul Taco transformed their dining room in Shockoe Slip to a mini supermarket where customers could come in and have a safe place to shop for essentials like produce and toilet paper. This in turn helped them reduce waste and get rid of produce that they would otherwise be selling. They also began filming online cooking and bartending tutorials and selling cocktail and meal kits so that they still had opportunities to connect with the Richmond community. This gave people stuck at home something fun to do and connect them with local brands while simultaneously promoting these brands.
Soul Taco put together a 2-day pop-up event called “Destination empanada“ which alluded to cancelled vacation plans due to COVID-19. They picked vacation destinations around the US and themed empanada flavors based on food trends in these cities.
Lastly, they saw an opportunity to partner with Kabana, a local bar and lounge who was having some staffing issues and also looking for a way to shift its business model to adapt to the changing times. Soul Taco committed to taking over their kitchen so that they could strengthen their food program and have a chance to remain successful during these trying times.
The Richmond community has been extremely supportive throughout this whole process for Soul Taco. They have purchased gift cards, tipped generously and been completely understanding when things weren’t perfect. As far as how to continue to support? As long as people keep doing what they’ve been doing and ordering to-go and delivery meals to support this small business, that’s really all they can ask for from their community. For more information about Soul Taco, you can visit their website at www.soultacorva.com.