During the COVID-19 pandemic, many restaurants in the Midlands have struggled, some even forced to shut down operations permanently. However, the Lexington branch of Salsarita’s has flourished thanks to their menu options and through community support.
Co-owners Priti Patel and Suki began working together about five years ago. Patel said she joined Suki to help out and spread the word about the Lexington franchise. Patel explained that when the pandemic became prevalent in South Carolina, their business was fortunate to already be serving boxed lunches.
“People were looking for individual boxed lunches. So, when [the pandemic] started, our menu already had that option. A lot of businesses through the hospital or drug reps ordering food were so excited," Patel said. "Nobody has to touch anything, they just pick up their boxes and go. We label everything whether it’s chicken, ground beef or veggie. We have anything they want."
Even though the restaurant was already prepared to serve boxed lunches, delivery was an obstacle they had not yet faced. “We thought, 'how do we get out there and serve the community when they are in lockdown?' They can’t come to us, but what can we do to take it to them," Patel said.
This led to the restaurant's creation of the "fiesta pack" delivery option. Families and businesses had the ability to order the meals then the restaurant would hand off the meals through contactless delivery.
Patel expressed her thankfulness to the community for the restaurant's success. “The community support is enormous. We have been a part of this community for so many years," she said. "Our operating owner actually lives in Lexington. So if you go around and ask people, 'do you know Suki?' Definitely." Patel added that Suki is "a very genuine guy" who is involved within the community.
Patel also said the community’s support is one of the main reasons why Salsarita’s has not seen a need to let go of any of their employees. “Our goal was that we want to keep all of our staff. We didn’t want to get rid of anybody," she said. "So with the support of everybody and the Lexington community and surrounding businesses, we have been very fortunate to keep all of our staff throughout the whole process."
Patel explained that the entire staff at Salsarita's has become a family unit in which everyone helps each other. "Some of our employees have been with us since day one and that’s 12 years of loyalty and commitment," she said. "So we are very fortunate to have staff who have been with us, but you know, it’s the operating owner who takes care of them. He does really really good with the staff. He is very loyal, not just to his staff, but also to the community.