When residents of Greenwood, Indiana, heard that local restaurant Roscoe’s Tacos was going to close, they decided they couldn’t let it happen. Roscoe’s was a long-established community favorite. Collectively, they knew that action was needed.
In March, Roscoe and Rita Townsend, the owners of Roscoe’s Tacos since it opened on April 1, 1996, announced the closure of their three sites—Greenwood, Southport, and Franklin. The pandemic had decimated their business, and it was no longer sustainable. Sales had nosedived to a mere $300 a day.
Rita remembers how tough the situation was. “I worked on that last day and after all the employees left I walked through the place, sat down on the table, look around and just cried,” she told CBS4 Indy.
However, something amazing was about to change things around. The local community came together and rallied in support. Longtime customers and fans of Roscoe’s started raising money. They bought up the leftover sauces from the restaurants, and they even made and sold T-shirts. The money raised was given to help the Townsends through the crisis.
“It wasn’t necessarily to help us reopen, it was just to help us out,” Roscoe said. “I was surprised that people cared that much, it was very much a surprise to me.”
It wasn’t just the fundraising itself that helped but the message that accompanied it. The community wanted their restaurant back. Roscoe’s Tacos had to be saved.
There were still some hard choices to make. The Franklin and Southport locations remained closed. But in Greenwood, on July 25, local residents got their wish, and Roscoe’s Tacos finally reopened.
The much-anticipated announcement had come via Roscoe’s Facebook page. It proved so popular that the opening day line went around the block and started to form 90 minutes before the actual opening time. Come closing time, people were having to be turned away. Some 6,400 orders were processed in the first two weeks alone.
“It was incredibly, incredibly busy,” Roscoe said. “And it didn’t stop, it didn’t slow down for two weeks.”
Rita said, “I’d never seen anything like it. I had a feeling I’d never had, and it was a very happy feeling. And an exhausted feeling as well.” Summing it up, she added, “It was insane.”
Although things did slow a little, numbers remained steady, and turnover is higher than it had been before the closedown in March. Even with the lockdown still persisting in some places, the aim now is another 25 years in business.
Thinking about the community and summing up all that has happened over the last few months, Roscoe said, “I think there was a feeling of empathy and they actually cared and they were concerned. They missed the tacos, but they cared about us and they proved that.”
Rita topped the sentiment off, saying, “Thank you, you guys are the best. Best customer base ever.”
Roscoe’s Tacos remains open for business at its Greenwood location.
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