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Couple's eatery that fed those in need faced a shutdown. Then the community stepped in to help.

A little kindness goes a long way and this story is proof of that as a couple's kindness comes back to them.

Couple's eatery that fed those in need faced a shutdown. Then the community stepped in to help.

Austin-based restaurant Nixta Taqueria, which had been closed for a while, announced on their Facebook page on January 10th, that they are back and re-open. It seems, as if the generous efforts they put into catering and caring for locals, have finally boomeranged for them, bringing them tons of support in the form of finances and love. The restaurant mostly gained popularity after they opened Austin's first free fridge. 

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A post shared by Nixta Taqueria (@nixtataqueria)


From corn tortillas to Austin-special tacos and tostadas, Nixta Taqueria serves a delectable menu of Mexican snacks and finger foods. Located in East Austin, the restaurant boasts of a glittering stardom. Not only has it been featured in the ‘20 Best Restaurants in Austin’ list of Conde Nast Traveler and got top reviews on Trip Advisor, but even the Hollywood superstar Anne Hathaway became a fan of the eatery when she visited it after a movie premiere. The restaurant owner Edgar Rico even posted a photograph with Hathaway to thank her for bringing the restaurant to the limelight. 

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The James Beard Award-winning restaurant came into existence in 2019, after which it has experienced no going back. Added to its mouthwatering dishes, what caused the stir in Nixta’s reputation was the fact that the area where it is located is often called the "food desert." The supply of food resources and groceries is not very sufficient in this area. So, when the pandemic struck the world in 2020, Rico and his wife, co-founder, Sara Mardanbigi joined the Austin Free Fridge Project, according to Eater Austin to help people experiencing food insecurity and scarcity issues. In July of 2020, when over 3.1 million Texas filed for unemployment, Nixta Taqueria turned out to be offering the first ever free fridge in Austin. The fridge proffered everything from vegetables, fruits, breads, frozen foods, prepared meals, restaurant foods, canned goods, baking and cooking supplies, hand sanitizer, and more. Nixta emerged as the only hope for people when they needed it the most.




They paved their way crossing the strenuous time of the pandemic and heatwave, but fast forward to August 2023, Rico and Sara came across an unfortunate roadblock. The city’s electricity board ordered the restaurant to be shut down when Austin Energy got an alert that the restaurant was drawing too much power. A city spokesperson said they had discovered melted wires during their visit to Nixta, and the restaurant was at a significantly high risk of fire or explosion. Consequently, the restaurant was ordered a repair permit, and till then a complete shutdown. "They essentially gave us a death sentence," Rico shared with Kut News.

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Following this incident, the restaurant owners created a GoFundMe page with the goal of $80,000 to pay for the permit expenses. They were showered with an outpouring of support from donors and other Austin-based restaurants including Interstellar BBQ, Veracruz All Natural and Kitty Cohen's, who offered to host the restaurant in their private spaces. Luckily, they were able to raise funding of $89,000 in just one day, which has cumulated to $114,588 as of January 2024. "Y'all fed us when we were frozen. You figured out how to make curbside happen when people were sick. You feed the community with the fridge and pantry. You lift other area chefs up and help grow other businesses along the way. It's the least that we could do when y'all already do so much. THANK YOU!" says Dan Reade. Having received an overflow of love from their customers and the locals, Rico said to Good News Network, “Help is there—and asking for it isn’t anything to be ashamed of. More than anything, it affirmed my belief that there is this unspoken bond and connection that we have with one another that transcends the day-to-day.

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