Local vegan taco shop sells 1.2 million masks in three days

A little local taco shop is doing big things during the coronavirus pandemic. 

Masataco, famous in Whittier for its vegan tacos, has transformed into a supplier of essentials like face masks, toilet paper, and hand sanitizer.

Customers can also buy 11-pound bags of rice, beans, lentils, and tortillas to make their own tacos at home. People waited in line in the rain Wednesday morning for the shop to open for business.

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Sales are staggering. In three days, owner David Fuerte has sold more than 1.2 million masks, 40-thousand pounds of rice, 25,000 pounds of beans.

People are traveling from Nevada and Arizona but most of his customers are first responders who can’t get proper equipment at work, including federal agents, eight police departments and hospital workers. “It’s definitely something that’s heart-warming, the response from my customers I’m getting,” says Masataco Owner and Chef David Fuerte.

“Nobody likes the situation that we’re in right now.” Retired Nurse Mireya Riviera drove here from San Fernando Valley. She’s returned to work during this crisis to help patients in their homes and needed protective masks. “I’ll be safer now,” says Riviera. “That means a lot. I thank them so much. I’m very appreciative of them.” 

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Fuerte, a Whittier native, like many, has a lot going on in his personal life. His stepdad passed away from cancer a few days ago, his mom is battling cancer and diabetes, his wife is pregnant and his business is on the line.

Still, he knows the community needs him and he has the resources and grit to help.   

Fuerte says he’s buying the masks from China and massive amounts of other FDA-approved products from warehouses around the country. “I’m getting them from Arizona, Texas, Louisiana, LA, everywhere.” His friend’s company, Pool Icons, is a big help by delivering the goods in its small fleet of trucks, so business owners like Sergio Romo can provide masks to their employees.

“I think it’s great not only for them that they’re able to get their hands on these items and sell them and make some kind of a profit and provide for the community,” says Romo. Fuerte says he can make a couple of dollars profit from products like the toilet paper and beans but the masks he sells at cost.

Masataco is open from 11 am to 9 pm and still selling its popular tacos, now with an optional side of toilet paper or a giant bag of lentils.