COLORADO SPRINGS — While some restaurants are closing their doors for good because of the pandemic, others are opening, including a new restaurant on the city's south side called Felipe's 109.
The taco burger restaurant, located on S. Academy and Hancock Ave., opened the doors for business over the weekend. Felipe Velasquez, the owner, said there was an "overwhelming presence of people".
But why open a business in the middle of a pandemic?
The business started as a food truck in May 2020. Velasquez says opening the food truck then actually helped the success of the business, and lead to being able to open a brick and mortar location.
"Because of the pandemic, people were looking for food trucks in neighborhoods. People were looking for food trucks on the street because restaurants were closed," said Velasquez.
Many people wanted to enjoy a meal from a local business, but remain safe. That's how Felipe's 109 grew their customer base over the past half year.
"It's scary obviously and it's joyful at the same time. We didn't expect to have a pandemic before we got the food truck, but when you get lemons and water you make lemonade," said Velasquez.
After successfully running the food truck for most of 2020, Velasquez and his family took the leap of faith to open the permanent location.
"I don't think we'd make it in 2019. Food trucks weren't a think back then. We decided to push through the challenges. There was no other time to do it then the time of now," said Velasquez.
Velasquez says his dream turned into reality with help from the community.
"Even though we're in the pandemic, there's still hope and a true understand that people care. It's been so joyous that the community has come together for this place, and want to stop by and say 'Hi,'" said Velasquez.
"I'm letting some lunch for the second time since open," said Vincent Salez, a customer. "I think it's awesome. You know, small businesses, you have to try and keep them afloat."
The dining room at Felipe's 109 remains closed, but Velasquez is keeping an eye on COVID-19 cases in El Paso County and will consider open the dining room soon.
He also mentioned, about five years ago the food truck industry wasn't booming with business. However the industry has grown the past couple years and even more-so during the pandemic.
Felipe's 109 is hiring. For more information call (719) 392-0447.