With COVID-19 pinching cash flow, Zia Taqueria is turning to a unique way to finance it’s new building on north Main Avenue: burrito bonds.
“We planned to finance it in two ways, one with cash flow, and we have a bank loan secured. But, obviously, when this crisis hit, cash flow stopped, essentially,” said Carly Van Hof Thomson, manager of business operations at Zia Taqueria.
Instead, she said owner Tim Turner came up with the idea of selling $100 gift cards to loyal customers to front-load some cash through the coronavirus-induced economic slowdown to help pay for the 10,000-square-foot building going up in the 3000 block of Main Avenue.
Zia Taqueria is referring to the $100 gift cards on social media as #BurritoBonds. The idea behind the cards is to provide some benefits not only to restaurant, but to nonprofits and to customers as well.
Interest collected on the money from the cards will go out to help nonprofits that also are feeling the pinch of the COVID-19-slowed economy.
To provide additional value to customers, Zia Taqueria is creating special coupons and promotions, including free items, that will go only to card holders over the next year. The cards don’t expire and can be redeemed for meals.
“You know, nonprofits, their funding has stopped and donations have stopped and businesses aren’t going to have their normal funds to support them,” she said. “So they’re really struggling as well, and we thought, as an opportunity to sort of help us get our building finished and also help these nonprofits generate funding, this is an idea that could really work.
“The third thing the cards do, they create kind of a VIP club for people who purchase them. So people who purchase them, they’ll get specials, coupons, promotions and free stuff over the course of the year, so that there’s a perk for them as well.”
Van Hof Thomson said Turner had seen an article about a restaurant on the East Coast that was selling bonds, and he took the idea and modified it to meet Zia Taqueria’s needs. Thus, the #BurritoBonds campaign and the gift cards were launched.
Zia’s goal is to sell 3,000 cards, raising $300,000 of which $30,000 will be donated to nonprofits.
Cards will be mailed at the end of the capital campaign on June 20.
Exterior work is largely complete on the 10,000-square-foot mixed-use project in the 3000 block of Main Avenue that will include a new home for Zia Taqueria. Completion is now set for a July opening.
Originally, a May opening was planned, but with COVID-19 restrictions in place, the pace of work has slowed with fewer workers allowed on site under Safer at Home restrictions in place.
Dr. Will Lacey plans to move his dental practice, San Juan Smiles, as a tenant in the new building and space is in place for another tenant. Van Hof Thomson said the other tenant is likely to be an optometry practice.
Besides a rooftop patio area, the new building will have better parking and a small ground-level patio with a small garden. It will also feature a pocket park between it and Birds.