Tacos, Corona, and empathy

How to run a food business during a pandemic

How to run a food business during a pandemic

Listen to the interview with Luis Rico here

Happy Birthday!

The gift of a restaurant that is part of people’s lives. El Rey is determined to stay in the present

Luis Rico was preparing to celebrate the five-year anniversary of his Mexican Taqueria, El Rey, before the coronavirus pandemic crashed the party. Luis, El Rey’s hands-on entrepreneur and co-founder, had to quickly adapt to the rapidly changing times by coming up with new ways to celebrate El Rey’s awesome food and atmosphere. The Focksters had the pleasure of (virtually) sitting down with the real person behind the much-enjoyed spot in the heart of Helsinki, to discuss the innovative ways he found to connect with the real customers that are so important to the heart of his restaurant’s business model. (And yes, the Focksters all want tacos now).  

A two month exercise in trying new things

The most popular workout to embrace in 2020. (But can you bench press 20 rolls of 2-ply?)

Before coronavirus, Luis’ marketing strategy was mainly by word of mouth. Previously, he was just focusing on the product itself–great food and creating a great Mexican experience in an almost underground way. He hadn’t relied on his website or social media. Through our conversation, what was exciting to see from an online marketing perspective, is how Luis made the transition from a completely offline marketing and sales strategy pre-coronavirus, to an almost exclusively online marketing and sales strategy. A compelling takeaway Luis had from the outcome of his new online digital marketing (powered by the results of El Rey’s popular post-coronavirus takeaway service) is that he’s realized he may have underestimated the power of marketing; and how clever, well-curated marketing can greatly help create better campaigns to engage customers.

From selling an experience to selling 2000% more fish tacos

Luis had been watching the coronavirus crisis as it developed and was already planning ahead for changes he may need to implement depending on how much effect the virus had in Helsinki. He was questioning not only what types of changes he may need to make (i.e. offering takeaway service, purchasing packaging products needed, etc) but was also assessing what ways he might be able to reach more people—and realized digital marketing may be the best way to do so. It’s really cool how in the blink of an eye, Luis went fully digital. Over the course of the last few months with the help of new online marketing campaigns, Luis has become more data driven from his implementation of online channels. Though his previous word of mouth model felt as though it was focusing directly on his guests, he is discovering how a data driven business model can actually be more user-centric because having the metrics to measure how people react to his product allows him the opportunity to become more thoughtful, and effectively, closer to his clientele.

The ways we can help each other in this moment <3

The other side of the digital marketing story that is thrilling to see, is how Luis was able to use these platforms not only to connect with his clients, but also to protect and uplift his staff. Luis hopes to keep his staff motivated while keeping his business open through these covid times, even if it’s not as profitable, so he can show the value he has for his staff, the food and experience they are creating together, and the El Rey brand. Luis is sending the signal to his staff that everything is possible. During a time when it may seem counterintuitive and when other restaurants are choosing to close, with the help of online marketing, Luis is doing the opposite. El Rey is in an experimentation phase, open to trying new things, open to learning opportunities–and many of these things are currently an option because Luis has been embracing an online digital marketing strategy. Luis has recognized the big impact even small changes in online marketing can make, and he’s using that momentum to adapt.

That Thursday to Saturday

Luis left us with fiesta feelings inspired by epiphanies he has realized from his adventure into digital marketing; that this is a time to try new things, and there is a future for El Rey that involves celebration, people, and in a very exciting last minute reveal–possibly a new El Rey location! We’re so motivated by Luis’ enthusiasm that we’re off to order our El Rey House Margarita takeaway kit now with super special add-on: 100% recycled paper mixed with Eyptian Cotton EL REY TOILET PAPER! Wink.

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