Is it possible for a lone taquero in Whittier to do a better job at serving the community during a pandemic crisis than the local and federal governments combined?
According to Masataco’s customers who have recently grown to include the FBI, at least eight different police departments, and medical personnel, it is looking like it. But their excellent vegan tacos aren’t the only thing on this neighborhood taqueria’s menu these days. Like many other businesses, they have adapted to the times. But the owner and lead taquero stands out from the rest for the numbers of face masks he has been able to obtain and distribute to the masses.
Upwards of 1.2 million face masks, 40,000 pounds of rice, 25,000 pounds of pinto beans, 10,000 pounds of lentils, and 25,000 pounds of Peruvian beans…in just three days.
“The first run, honestly, I didn’t think we were going to sell this shit. We emptied out a whole semi with 16 pallets of toilet paper, but then we sold it in four hours.” On their first day with this new setup, the small eleven hundred square foot restaurant sold 50 tons of rice and beans in three to four days. That’s 40,000 pounds of rice, 25,000 pounds of pinto beans, 10,000 pounds of lentils, and 25,000 pounds of Peruvian beans.
For their second supply run, they doubled their order and have kept that pace for the last two weeks. “We had someone come down from Nevada and another from Arizona” recalls Chef David. “They each spent around six to seven grand because they were out back home.”
Last Thursday, just a day before the FDA reversed themselves and approved the sale of KN95 masks during this emergency, these taqueros foresaw the upcoming situation and moved towards purchasing a hundred thousand of these masks to sell at cost, three dollars a piece. According to Masataco, they went on to sell a total of 250,000 KN95 masks on Friday and another 250,000 on Saturday to mostly first responders. That’s not including the 600,000 in surgical masks they’ve rationed out to the general public as well.
That’s 1.2 million masks in the span of three days.
Everyone needs beans and face masks, the FBI and public alike
On Friday, Chef David tells L.A Taco, “I got hit up by eight FBI agents. They’re only giving them two masks for work, so they showed up in their government cars and FBI jackets and bought 400 today, they’re coming back for 300 more tomorrow.”
Due to these complaints, Masataco has started posting the receipts in an effort to show transparency and to stop the internet trolls from making unfounded accusations. One of their most recent posts on Instagram was a receipt showing a purchase of $27,450 for 9,000 KN95 masks at 3.05 each. He sold these at $3 a piece while eating $450 in nickels. In fact, the last 50,000 masks he purchased that day to fill orders were at this higher price sacrificing $2,500 of their own money. “Everyday prices are fluctuating and I’m not trying to nickel and dime the community on masks, we’re just trying to help out.”