EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) — A native El Pasoan has created a website for the community to help local businesses survive the pandemic financially.
David Murguia grew up in the Borderland but now lives in San Francisco, California, working at a tech start-up. He used his skills to create an online database to connect users and local restaurants easily.
“I kind of quickly had to learn how to build a website,” Murguia told KTSM. “This is by no means a comprehensive database, but its a start.”
Murguia says he was inspired by a similar concept in the Bay Area called ‘Save Our Faves,’ and after about three days, he launched the ‘Save El Paso’ site.
“To me, it would be a heartbreaking experience if some of the places my parents, siblings, and I have been going to for the holidays, wouldn’t be around and would have closed,” said Murguia.
The local restaurant database lists Borderland staples like Cafe Central, The State Line, and Carlos & Mickey’s. Users can search by area and get linked to the restaurant’s website for ‘to-go’ options.
For restaurants closed during the pandemic, the site directs you to buy a gift card.
“Something like a gift card is what I like to think of like a quick and easy loan to the restaurant to continue to survive while they’re shut down for the promise of some delicious food later down the line,” Murguia explained.
One of the restaurants on ‘Save El Paso‘ is Los Bandidos de Carlos & Mickey’s. The owner, Rosa Saenz, told KTSM, Murguia’s gesture is humbling for her.
“It’s been rough,” said Saenz. “It’s hard to hear the phone ring, and you can’t say ‘come on in, what would you like?’ but we know we’re doing the right thing.”
Saenz comes from a long line of restaurateurs. Growing up, her family owned a restaurant called Poncho’s.
Her restaurant has now grown to three locations, one on Magruder in east-central El Paso, another inside the El Paso International Airport, and the newest restaurant on Montwood Drive in east El Paso.
Having to close two of her restaurants during the pandemic is emotional for Saenz because, “it’s a dream, you have to be crazy to be in the restaurant business. You don’t make a whole lot of money, and you got to do it right. Since we are restaurateurs, I want to make our family proud of who we’ve become and what we serve to El Paso,” said Saenz.
The owner of Carlos & Mickey’s said she has applied for several small business loans and for the paycheck protection program (PPP) to keep her business afloat during the city and county’s stay-at-home orders.
As KTSM has reported, the U.S. Small Business Association has exhausted the $349 billion in funds allotted to the loan program.
“One hundred employees work at Carlos & Mickey’s-Magruder, 22 musicians work at Carlos & Mickey’s-Magruder, all those people are hurting,” Saenz told KTSM. “We just want to get back and to work, but we’ll do it when it’s right.”
For those who need to get their Carlos & Mickey’s ‘fix,’ the Montwood location is only open for to-go orders and gift cards.
Businesses that do not have a gift card option can check out the FAQ section of the site.
The database is free and will be updated and maintained by Murguia as his way of helping his hometown from afar.
If your favorite restaurant is not on the site, a customer or owner could fill out a quick form on the database to get its contact info on ‘Save El Paso.’