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Local restaurant using food truck to help support employees, customers

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NILES, Mich. --- A restaurant in Niles is taking food orders on the go to help support their own employees and maintain safe social distancing while still serving their customers.

The pandemic can hit small businesses, such as restaurants, especially hard as dine-in is no longer an option.

El Amigo Pepe found a creative way to continue serving their customers.

“Niles is not a small town, but it feels like it is,” Gabriela Morales said, Manager of El Amigo Pepe.

Morales is the manager of the locally owned restaurant and even during the coronavirus outbreak, the community continues to support their small business, according to Morales.

“We feel like we are really, not just us, but the other local businesses have had a lot of support from the community,” Morales said.

El Amigo Pepe has had a food truck on the road for years, but now they are taking the truck out more often to help both their employees and their customers.

“We had to cut their shifts because there isn’t as many hours available because of the dine-in,” Morales said.

The costs to keep the restaurant running have tripled, so they are working to make sure their employees can pick up extra hours in the food truck, according to Morales.

“We’re just trying to find a way to kind of even everything out without raising the price on the customers,” Morales said.

El Amigo Pepe took their popular Mexican food on the go, offering menu items such as tacos, nachos, quesadillas—even their famous burrito loco.

The restaurant is also practicing safe, social distancing by asking customers to call ahead to place an order.

“That way the person can just come up and pay for their order,” Morales said. “We do encourage them to pay over the phone so that way they can just come, pick up their order and they can go.”

Shopping local helps to keep the money in the community, according to Morales.

“We’re able to see that this is a very strong community,” Morales said. “Niles is…we get together, we’re strong and we can get through all of it because we support each other. We try to make sure that our community’s taken care of, they’re not going too far out to be able to get food and at the same time they’re coming to us so it’s just a really beautiful thing to see.”

The restaurant is still open for take-out Thursday, Friday and Saturday from 11 a.m.-8 p.m. El Amigo Pepe plans to take the truck out at least twice a week.

If you are interested in following updates from the restaurant, you can find their Facebook page here.

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