Vegan, Mexican restaurant Flacos stays afloat amid pandemic

Photo of Flaco's Restaurant
Gisselle Reyes/Staff
Enduring the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic since its beginning, Flacos, a vegan Mexican restaurant in Berkeley, continues to stand strong.

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Since the beginning of the pandemic, Flacos, a vegan Mexican restaurant in Berkeley, has felt the effects of COVID-19 but remains resilient.

The idea to create a vegan Mexican restaurant began with founder Antonio Magana in 2000, according to the restaurant’s website. The restaurant opened its first location in Berkeley in early March 2010. Before the physical location opened, Flacos started selling food in the fall of 2001 at the Berkeley Farmers’ Market, according to the website.

Anthony Magana, nephew of Antonio Magana, inherited the business from Antonio Magana. He said Flacos is special because the recipes at the restaurant are all family recipes.

“One thing my uncle wanted to do was to show that you don’t have to sacrifice flavor and authenticity for meat and dairy,” Anthony Magana said.

Flacos has struggled in the last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. From March 17 to May 5, the restaurant was closed, according to Anthony Magana.

The most difficult part of the situation is predicting sales week to week, Anthony Magana said. He added that it’s hard to project how to staff the restaurant because this year’s sales are very different from last year’s sales.

“When it first hit, we didn’t really have the infrastructure to stay open,” Anthony Magana said. “Since the beginning of COVID, we really haven’t had a steady income.”

Despite these challenges, Anthony Magana said the restaurant is not in “code red.” The family received federal government aid through the Paycheck Protection Program initially and are now hoping for help through a local government grant it applied for.

Additionally, Anthony Magana said they are at 50% of how they normally do, which he said was “amazing” and something that he thought would not be possible.

He added that, as the situation currently stands, Flacos is not “business as usual,” but the restaurant is getting by.

“Everything that we do is for our community, people that love us, people that want us, people that want alternative healthy food,” Anthony Magana said. “That’s what we’re here for.”

Contact Shylie Ati at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @shylieati.