Nick Ramirez is a chef at Loquita, an acclaimed Spanish style tapas restaurant in Santa Barbara. The restaurant made USA Today’s top new restaurant list when it opened three years ago. Like many restaurants on the Central and South Coasts, coronavirus led to its shutdown.
Now Ramirez and some of his fellow employees with Acme Hospitality, which owns other restaurants in Santa Barbara like Lark and the Paradise Café, are back at work. They’re helping to feed elderly shut-ins through a unique collaboration with Foodbank of Santa Barbara County.
Judith Smith-Meyer is with Foodbank of Santa Barbara County. The non-profit isn’t normally in the prepared meal business, but because they have a network of home delivery service to get groceries to shut-in seniors, it seemed like a logical extension of its services during the coronavirus crisis.
Back at Loquita, Chef Ramirez says it feels wonderful to be back working, and using his skills to help people who might otherwise being eating canned food.
Loquita is now preparing about 570 meals a week, while Lark, its sister restaurant, is doing about 500.
The meal service started in Southern Santa Barbara County, but is now operating countywide, even serving the Cuyama Valley.
The meals serve an important supplement to the bagged food deliveries being made to senior shut-ins.
The month-old “Chef’s Kitchen” program isn’t government funded. Instead, it relies on grants and donations to keep the restaurant’s kitchens operating for seniors.