When the pandemic closed their Richfield restaurant, El Tejaban, in mid-March, Miguel Hernandez, Jr. and his sister Dianna, who have been co-managing the restaurant since 2008, asked themselves a simple question: “How can we help our customers?”

They turned to their parents, Miguel Hernandez Sr. and Rosa Zambrano (owners of the restaurant), for advice. How did they envision El Tejaban contributing to the community during the outbreak? Their response: provide free lunches to kids. Miguel Sr. and Rosa hearkened back to their days as working parents with young kids and knew the community need would be there.

They were right.

In the last 8-plus weeks since the “Shelter in Place” order has been issued, El Tejaban has served roughly 300 free meals to kids in the Richfield area. In some cases, they were providing as many as 15-20 free meals to kids per day!

And, those free meals are making a real difference for Richfield families.

For example, one young girl whose mom is a nurse had a lunch from El Tejaban ready and waiting for her every day at 11 a.m. to coincide with her mom’s work shift.

Another regular brought her kids plus two other families’ children, who she babysat while their parents worked.

In another case, a van full of hungry kids dropped in as Miguel Sr. and Miguel Jr. worked the kitchen and challenged themselves to get eight meals out the door as quickly as they could!

Along the way, the entire El Tejaban team has really enjoyed helping these families and kids in need.

“The staff makes the restaurant. They ARE the restaurant,” says Rosa. “The positive energy our staff brings to work, even during these stressful times, really makes my day,” adds Miguel Sr.

The Hernandez family is taking all the necessary precautions for safety and good health at El Tejaban, and now, given the “Shelter at Home” order has been lifted, they are ready to see more friendly faces for takeout—six feet away, of course!