BAKERSFIELD, Calif. — COVID-19 has impacted businesses and restaurants across Kern County, including those on wheels. Mexican food truck So-Cal Tomal's owner Favien Alex Ruiz said he was worried about his family-owned business when state guidelines first shut down restaurants. But being a food truck owner has had some unexpected perks.
“At the beginning, we were a little scared not knowing how it was going to go when they first did the first shutdown," Ruiz said. “After the shutdown of the full-service restaurants, our sales went up a little bit."
Ruiz said So-Cal Tomal hasn’t had to shut down as many times as sit-down restaurants, and the fast service attracts busy customers.
“People want to just pass by, pick up and go," Ruiz said.
Bakersfield resident Thomas Paniagua said he feels safer getting meals from food trucks right now.
“There’s no contact. There’s no, like, you know worrying about. They’re safe in there and I know my food is safe so that’s how I feel about it," said Paniagua.
Ruiz told 23ABC he does recommend that restaurants open food trucks if they have the ability to do so.
“I would if they have the resources and the time and want to spend all that money, but if not I think waiting it out maybe would be also a good idea," Ruiz said.
Still, Ruiz says he has had to make changes, and he is looking forward to the day when he can provide his family-style seating again.
“We canceled all outdoor seating. We [got] sanitizer for customers. We ask them to stay six feet apart. All our kitchen staff is masked up and gloved up," said Ruiz.
For now, Ruiz said he is grateful for the support So-Cal Tomal has received from customers, and he encourages them to continue buying meals from food trucks.
“To the community, you know, they’ve been really good supporters already of us, but if they can support any of the food truck vendors that would be great because it’s not easy being a food truck vendor," said Ruiz.
Ruiz said they are opening a second food truck soon and are trying their best to help customers survive the summer heat.