Luis Olvera, owner of Trompo taqueria, has started a GoFundMe to help save his restaurant. D magazine reported it as the first closure of the year on Friday, January 5, after Olvera was locked out on January 3 for failure to pay the rent.
Olvera posted a video on January 7 explaining the situation. “I owe my landlords $30,000,” he said. “They’ve locked the doors, and if I can’t raise the money to wipe the slate clean, we’ll never reopen.” Olvera told Eater Dallas that the money accounts for six months of back rent owed.
He explains that a few investors have offered the money in exchange for an ownership stake in Trompo with revenue streams attached to the offer that Olvera calls “unsustainable for my family.” So, instead of accepting those offers, Olvera started a GoFundMe to save the taqueria. “I did not want to do this campaign because I am unworthy,” he says in a phone call to Eater Dallas. “I wanted to fade into the night. But people who are my loyal base started reaching out to ask what they could do to help.”
Olvera says he’s been flooded with messages and comments of support, and at the urging of his inner circle he decided to attempt to raise the money. At press time, it has raised $4,875, around 10 percent of what Trompo needs to stay open. “If we do not raise $36,000 over the next few days, the taqueria closes, the community loses a big part [sic] that has made life special, and I’m going to have to leave the food industry because I don’t have enough left in me to kick start something new,” Olvera said in the video.
D mag notes that this was Trompo’s fifth location, starting in Olvera’s backyard. After opening, the taqueria made Bon Appetit’s 2016 best tacos list. When he opened this location in late September 2022, he had an expectation that sales here would be lower than in previous locations but that he would make enough to keep his core staff who have been with him since his first location. Unfortunately, that was not the case despite getting a license to sell alcohol for the first time. From the time this location opened, Olvera says, he hasn’t been able to meet his expectation of selling even 60 to 70 percent as much as he did previously.
“I was in denial the first quarter of 2023,” Olvera says. “Jefferson had all the parking and alcohol sales I thought I needed in the past, but I was hemorrhaging money. We won best tacos in Dallas in D magazine in TK year, and I filmed a Spanish-speaking episode for a spin-off of Univision’s Good Morning America that we hoped would have come out sooner. There were all these signs that we’d be good and people would wake up the fact that we’re here and not moving again.”
Olvera says that after none of those accolades moved the needle in the same way the Bon Appetite mention had, he began to make changes to his spending, vendors, and eventually letting go of staff in October 2023. “I had no more savings, I maxed out on everything [lines of credit] I had,” he says. He offered staff who were being let go a month to find other jobs. He says November 2023 was his lowest sales week of the year but that the changes he’d made were enough to keep him afloat. “I’ve had the hard realization that if I am going to survive, I have to adjust to the profits I’m making today,” Olvera says.
“I can only blame [the dip in sales] on myself,” he says. “If by January or February of 2023 I saw things weren’t going how I wanted to, I should have made cuts then. I chose not to and I did it my way. My way was not working. I put 100 percent of the blame on me.”
He also sites digital confusion about his location after the latest move with GPS systems and online ordering.
“If this is truly the end,” Olvera says, “what a way to go. The responses to this campaign has put joy in my heart. I’m going to fail and that’s okay, that’s part of life. To fail with so much love, come on.”
Update: Monday, January 8, 2024: 10:45 a.m.: This story has been updated to include comments from Olvera.