By Mike Hazlip-
A struggling Citrus Heights restaurant and its small staff were treated to an early Christmas gift, thanks to surprise wave of customers who found the rescue after understanding the business was barely surviving amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Related: Popular Mexican restaurant in Citrus Heights can not survive during pandemic
\”The community has been amazing, amazing,\” restaurateur Rosibel Osuna said in an interview on Christmas Eve, several days after an initial story about her struggling restaurant was published within the Sentinel. \”It's nice to see how people meet up and try to help wherever they are able to. And they're coming in to say: 'we're here to support you.'\”
Impacted by COVID-19 shutdown orders and frustrated with bureaucratic hurdles for help, Rosibel and her husband, Jose, were unsure about the future of their three years old business: Panchito Mexican Restaurant. However the recent outpouring of support in the community is giving the pair hope.
Rosibel Osuna said some people came in just to drop off gift cards, without placing an order. One card had $50 in cash, she said.
\”It's been overwhelming with all the caring that people have been offering. We've been super busy.\”
Rosibel said the begin business has increased wait times, but customers happen to be patient.
\”The people have been so nice, I apologize for taking a little extra time for the orders,” she said. “Most people are thankful, and happy they are able to help us. So far, no one has been upset at waiting.”
Jose Osuna said he seemed to be overwhelmed by the show of support, calling it “phenomenal.”
\”I'm very humbled. Thank you to Citrus Heights, it blows me away,\” he said. \”Last week I was tired. This week, I don't mind. I don't mind waking up at 7 a.m. and leaving (the restaurant) at nighttime.\”
The couple said they understand the necessity to take precautions to slow multiplication of COVID-19, but had faced a drop of 50% in business when restaurant restrictions and stay-at-home orders went into effect. Only takeout and delivery is allowed, in accordance with county health orders, and mask-wearing is in place for all staff.
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Jose Osuna said phone orders are preferred over delivery app orders, since direct ordering avoids app fees of up to 30% that restaurants must absorb.
Panchito Mexican Restaurant is located at 7683 Auburn Blvd., in Citrus Heights. A full menu can be viewed online at www.panchitomexicanrestaurant.com.