4131 Rucker Ave
Everett, WA 98203
Sunday – Thursday: 11 AM to 9 PM
Friday – Saturday: 11 AM to 10 PM
This week has shown me the value of our local small business. It had slipped my mind that Sunday was a widely recognized holiday. I had just returned to town from a weekend in the woods and was in desperate need of food and a margarita. Driving around was yielding nothing, everyone was closed in observance of the Easter holiday. I decided on the little unassuming Mexican restaurant across from Safeway on 41st and Rucker. I had been in before and had a great experience during a stop for lunch a few weeks ago and figured I would stop in for dinner and drinks. The place was open and empty, so I got to talk with the server about what business has been like and how they are dealing with the current state of things.
His name is Jonny and he was more than happy to tell me about it. We talked about it being a family-run business and how long his family had been involved in the ownership. He told me about the beginning,
“My family & I got the opportunity to partner up with Ismael who at the time was the only owner of El Tapatío. We joined the El Tapatío family mid pandemic, July 2020. When all of the restaurants closed, we lost our jobs at another Mexican restaurant”. He then told me how the shutdown affected his family. “ It was hard on my Dad (Toño) & my cousin (Alejandro). They had been working for that restaurant for 21 years. We decided to take a big risk & invest in El Tapatío, not knowing how it was going to be.”
This story pulls at my heartstrings, coming from working for small businesses all of my working life. I know the risk involved in moving. I asked how the pandemic has affected the state of things at El Tapatio, Jonny said that it has been a very crazy roller coaster, but they continue to work hard at doing what they love, and continuing to work on what he said was “a fixer-upper”. I was curious as to how long he had been employed there.
“I have personally worked here since June when we first started, I wear all the hats here. I go from being a waiter to washing dishes. I just love to help my family achieve their American dream, especially in these hard times. We as a business understand what everybody is going through, so that’s why we always try to have a smile on our faces & give the best service we can.”
Jonny talked a bit about the struggle of keeping people employed through this time also.
“The pandemic hurt El Tapatío more than we expected, business was so low. Sometimes we wouldn’t even be able to pay our employees, we had to pay them with our own money meanwhile we would struggle to pay our bills. But thanks to God, our community, and our amazing staff, they’ve been helping us get through this day by day. We’ve been working hard every day to improve everything, and we’re happy that the community has been very kind to us.”
We were able to speak a bit about if and how social media has helped their business. Having advertisements online is almost the only way to do things now.
“When they took ownership of El Tapatio they created an all-new Facebook page, and Instagram account, to try and promote the business. While Doordash & Uber have helped a lot through the stay-at-home order, too keep the doors open. We started having daily specials on food & drinks. We also have extended our menu by adding new delicious dishes like our tasty piña tropical. It isn’t officially on our Menu yet, but it’s a daily special. (It is wonderful!)”
Now to the menu! The experience that I had with Jonny and the extensive menu that they provide was spectacular. He was incredibly knowledgeable about everything and made some of the best margaritas that I have ever had. Did I mention this was his first day as a server? Go see him, he’s awesome. I asked him what his favorite dish was, he had a bit of a time with this question.
“We’ve got so many amazing plates, it’s really hard for me to pick my favorite dish, but if I had to pick one it would be the Guadalajara plate because the name itself is actually where we’re from in Mexico. It touches home. You get the best of both worlds with that dish, breakfast, and dinner.”
I also asked about daily specials and what was most popular with guests. This was a quicker answer and something that I have personally eaten.
“Our most popular dish chosen by customers is our new trio molcajete, we introduced this dish this past summer when I got back from Guadalajara, Mexico. I brought back 5 of the lava bowls that the trio molcajete is served in. It has been an amazing hit for us! The trio molcajete is $22.99, inside the lava bowl itself is shrimp, carne asada & pollo Azado in a house salsa made by our one & only chef Toño, it also comes with a side of rice & beans. It’s truly a delightful dish especially when you combine it with a wonderful Cadillac margarita, that before you finish it you already want another one, made by the greatest bartender Alejandro.
We truly appreciate everyone’s support and we are here to serve the best Mexican food and margaritas to everyone that comes through our doors and takes a chance on our small family-oriented Mexican restaurant/taqueria. Thank you to everyone! “