Downtown El Paso restaurant transitions to bodega, home meal kit service amid pandemic
EL PASO, Texas -- El Paso restaurant owners who aimed to transform the Union Plaza District downtown with their restaurant Tabla are now transforming the European-style meal sharing concept into something that meets the need of social distancing during the pandemic.
It's now called the Union Plaza Bodega. The owners held a soft launch earlier this month but the official opening is May 1.
"You're getting partially prepped meals and then you're finishing them off at home," said chef Norberto Portillo during a video interview from inside his restaurant. "There's some chopping involved, maybe a little sauteing, and then what we're asking you guys to do is we want to see the final product."
Portillo described it as a local, interactive home meal kit service complete with locally-grown meats and produce. It can be delivered or picked up curbside at the restaurant.
Portillo said he and his partners Alan Delgado and Edgar Picazo spent weeks reaching out to local food and art vendors to expand the bodega.
"I want this to continue to grow," Portillo said. "I'm hoping that working with these local vendors we can really do something sustainable for the community and provide for these small businesses."
The Union Plaza Bodega has social media pages on the Facebook and Instagram platforms, as well as a website. Photos of artfully plated meals and a menu are available so customers follow along and prepare their own feasts at home.
"We know there's still a need for that (dine-out experience)," Portillo said. "People still want something nice, and that experience of being at a restaurant but they can't get it, so we want to provide that at home."
Portillo told ABC-7 even though Gov. Greg Abbott is allowing restaurants across the state to reopen May 1 at limited capacity, Tabla will not be taking part at this time.
For more information, Portillo urges customers to email firstname.lastname@example.org or to call (915) 533-8935 between 12 and 6 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday.