Authored by: Maribel Araujo, co-owner of Caracas Arepa Bar, and Andrew Field, owner of Tacoway Beach
What originally connected us was our shared belief that the best thing we can do in our lives is to create a community through our food and hospitality – a safe place for our staff to work every day, a welcoming environment for the city we call home, and a place that fosters connection, between friends or strangers. That’s why we are in this business.
Over the past two decades of operating Caracas Arepa Bar and Tacoway Beach, we’ve faced many challenges. In 2012, Hurricane Sandy tore through both of our Rockaway Beach restaurants filling them with water and leaving permanent, irreversible damage. In 2016, Caracas Arepa Bar in the East Village experienced a fire which forced the dining room to close permanently. After each of these events, there was no choice for us but to get to work to rebuild our business for the people we serve and employ.
After Sandy, we worked tirelessly to help restore the Rockaway Beach Boardwalk, refurbishing shipping containers for our new restaurants and pitching in to feed workers as the weather turned cold. Even in that moment of unimaginable devastation, our locations became a gravitational pull for the community while we worked to rebuild the restaurants that defined us.
Like many restaurants, nothing could prepare us for the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic. The past year was catastrophic for the industry. And unfortunately, over time we were forced to permanently close the Caracas East Village location and our shared cafe, Thank You, in Rockaway Beach. While we recognize how fortunate we are to have kept our other locations open and operating for the majority of last year, saying goodbye to the restaurants we built and poured our hearts into was one of the hardest decisions we made. But similar to after Hurricane Sandy and the 2016 fire, we both believe that we need to rebuild, and we have never given up the hope of restoring the connectivity and the fabric of our restaurants once again – even if it looks a bit different.
Today we are excited to announce the opening of our newest joint venture, a take-out kitchen located in the Lower East Side which has come to life through an incredible partnership with DoorDash.
While our dine-in operations remained closed for the better part of the past year, it became abundantly clear the world is moving online. We knew we needed to find new ways to foster community in a post-pandemic world and for us there was a beautiful challenge in marrying technology that is driving the industry forward with the hospitality we know very well. With Reopen for Delivery, DoorDash helps restaurants who have closed their doors during the pandemic, reopen with delivery-forward kitchens in order to get back on their feet, operate lower cost kitchens and re-establish their footprint in their city.
We have spent the last few months reimagining how to build a kitchen where resources are shared to make it more efficient for our staff and for the operation. With that as a new base, we can focus on the food we create and find a bridge to master hospitality through delivery and continue to connect with customers wherever they are.
With this new venture we’ve rehired three of the staff we let go from the East Village Location, got to work creating a combined menu for the first time which will be available exclusively from our new location. And with found an operations and logistics partner in DoorDash who could help set us up for success and build a sustainable and permanent off-premises kitchen.
Our new stores are part of DoorDash Kitchens, which is located in Nimbus, a NYC-based shared kitchen. The kitchen is located in the Lower East Side and will serve all Manhattan neighborhoods south of 34th St. To order from Caracas, Tacoway or our new combined menu for pickup or delivery, visit our stores on the DoorDash app or website.
For us, the future of our restaurants is at the intersection of hospitality and technology. A future where we can continue to bring guests the food we love, create better opportunities for our staff and still be active members in the neighborhoods where we are. This future doesn’t just exist in our brick and mortar stores anymore, you don’t have to be seen to deliver a great and fair experience. This is the beginning of that quest.