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    This Taco Shop Is Sharing Exactly Why Their Prices Have Increased Because Of The Pandemic, And I'm Asking You Very Nicely To Examine This List

    "I think it was just a breaking point for us. Customers look at you and they're like, 'Why are you charging these prices?'"

    By now, it's no secret that the pandemic has turned the restaurant industry upside down. Whether you're a restaurant owner, an employee, or a customer, you've likely had to deal with a slew of changes.

    Person placing a "come in, we're re-opening" sign in their storefront after being closed because of COVID
    Leopatrizi / Getty Images

    For many, one of those changes is price increases. There are several reasons for this — and earlier this week, a Los Angeles taco shop opened up on their Instagram, getting very candid about what customers need to know about the realities of running a small business during COVID.

    Vanessa and Alejandro Silva — the husband-and-wife team behind Metztli Taqueria (and working parents to three young children) — told BuzzFeed that their decision to open up about their prices came after customers repeatedly asked why their tacos, priced between $5 and $7 each, cost that much.

    Black and white portrait of the Metztli Taqueria owners wearing aprons.

    "I think it was just a breaking point [for us], you know?" Vanessa Silva told BuzzFeed. "We've had very sarcastic comments where people are like, 'are you guys cutting the cow in the back or something?' [Customers] look at you and they're like, 'oh, you're Hispanic, you're Latino, like, why are you charging these prices?'"

    The Silvas mention several things that can easily get overlooked when customers are assessing the price a food item "should" cost — and one of those things is quality. Vanessa and Alejandro say it best: "quality isn't cheap."

    Instagram: @metztlitaqueria

    As chefs and business owners, the Silvas know the importance of sharing high-quality, locally-sourced food with their community, and they "won't change the quality [they're] using just to make a profit."

    "We go to the markets to buy everything," Vanessa explained. "We want to be able to provide good quality food for not just us, but for everybody."

    Another vital element that customers often overlook? Time. As the Silvas recap in an Instagram Story, the customer is seeing the finished chicken taco on their plate, but they're not always considering the process that leads up to that. In this case: a 24-hour prep, 10 to 12 ingredients, and significant labor.

    Photo of taco with text: "Everybody thinks tacos are easy. No the fuck they're not. We specialize in braises. Braising takes fucking time. Pressing masa to order takes time. Depending on what protein it is, making it can range between 4–6 hours."

    As they sum up: You're not just paying for the taco.

    Photo of taco with text: "you're also paying for everything that it takes to make that taco. Cooking oil. frying oil, propane, gloves, utensils, ramekins, gas to get to the pop-up...are all broken down to the cent and added to the price of the taco."

    While restaurants nationwide deal with rapidly rising food costs and inflation, Vanessa and Alejandro also point out that for them, serving Mexican food *specifically* can come with its own set of difficult preconceived notions.

    Photo of taco with text: "hopefully we can change this but it's still true. People that don't know still associate Mexican food as being cheap. Thanks to places like Taco Bell, we get people all the time asking if that's really the price of 1 taco."

    "As chefs," said Vanessa, "we put so much pressure on ourselves that anything can beat us up. Regardless of what level of cooking you're at, certain words or even facial expressions [from customers] can bring you down."

    Photo of owners working in the kitchen with text: "thanks to everyone that's been supporting our mom and pop taqueria. This hasn't been the easiest for us. It's taking a toll mentally and physically. We have no employees. We do everything."

    As the Silvas put it: "People forget to just be kind." So, the next time you go out to eat, remember that restaurants are feeling the effects of this pandemic in major ways — including many of the small, family-run establishments out there like Metztli Taqueria. Tip well, be patient, and most importantly: be kind.

    Photo of owners working in kitchen with text: "will we be around next year? that's still in the air. We have opportunities here and elsewhere. As much as we love serving y'all, sometimes we gotta wonder if all this time is really worth it."