City Tamale, a Hunts Point, Bronx-based tamale restaurant where all tamales are handmade using ingredients sourced directly from Mexico and local fresh produce, is busy keeping New York fed.
That includes all the essential workers who work in Hunts Point near the cozy spot that Israel Veliz opened four years ago, located at 1316 Oak Point Ave. Sanitation and food distribution centers are based right next door to him.
“The local people here are so essential to what happens in New York. They are the backbone of the city so we can’t close,” said Israel.
According to Israel, his revenue has dropped by 50 percent, and as a result, he shortened the restaurant’s hours of operation, while also sending most of his staff home.
“We were nine before, now we are two, and I am in the kitchen making the tamales,” he said.
Even though he has had to shorten his hours, he said, “We are here, and all the essential workers appreciate that we are open and say thank you.”
Israel had to close his newly opened Midtown location, but because there is much less traffic, he is also able to widen his delivery circle and recently delivered a tamales order to Harlem. That earned him a rave, appreciative response of gratitude on social media.
During this difficult time, Israel is focused on looking at what good can come out of this.
“We’ve taken a moment to see where we can improve, and find joy in what we are doing,” he said.
He’s enjoying going back to making the tamales himself, like he did when he first opened. He’s continuing to innovate on the traditional recipes, offering both savory and sweet options.
“We’ve repainted our restaurant – it will be bright and welcoming for when things open up again,” he said.
Watch more about City Tamale on amNY TV on our YouTube channel, followed by an update from Israel!
This story originally appeared on amny.com.