Like many restaurants last summer, Quesadilla Gorilla was ready and eager for a partial reopening of its multiple storefronts and food truck in and around Tulare and Fresno Counties, California. 

Business started bumping along again as news of the pandemic temporarily waned, and infection rates seemed to be getting under control. But, like all of 2020, if it wasn’t one disaster, it was another. 

By the end of the summer, fires were blazing across huge swaths of California. Quesadilla Grorilla’s food truck stationed in Three Rivers was at the foot of one of these fires. Smoke, heat and impending danger forced the business to shut down immediately to protect its staff. Reeling from other recent shutdowns and unable to keep its staff employed without regular business, owners Mikayla and Miguel Reyes were at a loss for what to do. That’s when Off the Grid called.

Through its emergency food relief program, Off the Grid was able to sponsor and coordinate meal delivery to hundreds of residents displaced by the fire and keep Migue and Mikayla’s business afloat. 

“We were able to feed almost 400 people within just a few days of closing down the food truck, which allowed us to make all of our sales and keep all of our employees,” said Mikayla. “As we were feeding all these people staying in hotels who had lost their homes it dawned on us that we were so grateful to be able to help out our community in a way that we never had before.”

The support they were able to provide paid the business back in significant ways, Mikayla added. Once businesses were able to reopen, Quesadilla Guerilla’s strong foothold as a community player only became clearer. Locals, its regulars and new diners came out to eat and support the business with a newfound appreciation for the role they played in the community.

As California gets ready for what will likely be another brutal fire season, Miguel and Mikayla said that they feel more prepared than ever to deploy their staff and services to feed those in need while also taking care of their staff. Clear communication with its staff, a framework for how to efficiently deploy 150, high-quality orders a day with minimal waste and seamless delivery logistics are all things the team learned from working as food responders through the fires last year.

“We’re all trained and ready for last-minute needs,” said Miguel. “It’s all really rewarding in so many ways and I’d encourage more vendors to join us and do the same.”