A neighborhood restaurant is getting back on its feet, months after closing its doors because of the coronavirus pandemic.
For two weeks, Mi Tocaya has been serving takeout and delivery in addition to feeding hundreds of families every week in the Logan Square neighborhood.
"We live here, our children go to school here. Our business is here," says chef and owner, Diana Davila.
The restaurant has partnered with the Logan Square Neighborhood Association to distribute free, boxed to-go meals outside of five neighborhood schools five days a week.
"It’s definitely fulfilling," she said.
The restaurant was only able to reopen and provide this service to the community after receiving PPP and financial aid through a restaurant relief initiative. The Power of 10 launched on March 26th in Washington D.C. and expanded nationally on May 6th.
Mi Tocaya is one of only three beneficiaries in Chicago and one of just 30 participating restaurants across the country.
Power of 10 aims to give $10,000 a week to participating restaurants during the crisis, to create 10 full-time jobs, and provide 1,000 free meals to its direct community. Chef and restaurateur Erik Bruner-Yang created the initiative as a way to mobilize locally-owned, independently operated restaurants to address their challenges in a sustainable way.
"The long term goal is really supporting these people, especially the communities. They needed these resources before the pandemic hit," said Bruner-Yang. "Our goal is to keep The Power of 10 moving. I think it’s a really important organization. We’re actively working to hit our $1 million fundraising mark by the middle of June to keep all 30 restaurants going for as long as possible."
The program is made possible through donations and grants.
"Through our individual contribution platform we’ve raised $100,000, and we received other grants from 'Share our Strength' and 'No kid hungry,'" said Bruner- Yang. "With individual contributions and our partnership with Capital One we’re 30 restaurants nationwide."
Davila says she's brought back nearly all of all her furloughed staff through the program. The restaurant now offers takeout Thursday-Saturday and serves community meals Monday-Friday