Tacos 4 Life converts to temporary warming center during winter storm
As the severe winter storm settled in Ellis County last week, Tacos 4 Life stepped up to aid the community while many went without power and water for hours and even days.
Owner Jim Stanford moved to open up the restaurant as a warming center to the community after speaking with his manager.
“Tuesday, we were there, we were open for a little while and we were gonna close early 'cause the weather was coming in that evening. We had an employee whose family had lost power that day,” shared Stanford. “So that family came in, and they just kind of hung out in our party room in the back. We were able to feed them, and they could charge their devices. So they kind of stayed there a little bit so that they could warm up.”
"The magnanimous generosity began with his employees on 2/14. When the first employees lost electricity/water on Sunday 2/14, he put them and their families in hotels. Then, more employees lost electricity/water, but all of the hotels were sold out. So, he invited those employees and their families to stay with him in his own home for as long as necessary," shared Storey Bridges, manager of the restaurant.
After closing Monday, Tacos 4 Life opened to the public as a warming center all day Wednesday.
“So that night I was speaking with a manager, and we were talking about the next day, 'cause we knew the weather was coming in, we were talking about probably closing because we didn’t want to try and get the employees out in the midst of what it was going to be,” explained Stanford. “So we just discussed it and said what if we just do what we did for them. Just open up and let anyone that needs to be warm, we’ll provide them. What we did is we kind of decided to just make a few things and provide the food to them for free, just to help them get through it and give them maybe a good hot meal.”
Stanford reached out to his staff, asking them if they wanted to come in and help out as the restaurant converted to a temporary warming center.
“For the workers, we just made it voluntary for anyone that wanted to show up to help, they could come in and we’d pay them, but we didn’t want anybody to get out that wasn’t comfortable getting out,” shared Stanford.
According to Stanford, about 10 employees were there throughout the day.
The doors were open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., with the restaurant serving free beef and chicken tacos beginning at 11 a.m.
"On Wednesday, 2/17, he (Stanford) opened the store hours before we would normally open. He invited anyone without electricity/water to come warm up, charge devices, and eat delicious, warm, free food," said Bridges.
The restaurant helped feed about 250 people, 100 of those being community members who were seeking shelter with Waxahachie Bible Church.
“We have tremendous people in our community. We have a lot of people that want to help, and they just don’t know how they can but you know, the biggest thing is just whenever you see a need, try to step up and help in that area,” explained Stanford. “Being a restaurant in the community, we have a responsibility to our community as well. People support us during the year, so we want to do what we can to help give back. It seems like every time something happens here in our town, the people step up to help. That’s one of the things I love about our community and that I love about the people we get to partner with. I saw a lot of that over this past week. From churches and individuals that stepped up in whatever way they could.”
Additionally, workers from the local Nothing Bundt Cakes shop showed up on Wednesday and gifted several dozen cakes to the restaurant.
"Many expressed thanks for helping their friend/relative/church friend/work friend, etc. The response from the community has been amazing. Some people came into the store just to donate money, time, games, movies. We watched so many Disney movies that day. Since that day, we have been busier than ever before," shared Bridges.
Tacos 4 Life is located at 1760 N. Hwy 77 in Waxahachie. To see their menu and read about their mission, visit http://www.tacos4life.com/ .