Table for None: Inca Social co-owner on running a restaurant during COVID-19

Fito Garcia gives insight into how the Vienna eatery is handling the daily challenges of the pandemic, and what’s keeping him hopeful during this time.

dish at inca social peruvian restaurant
Photo by Rey Lopez

As soon as the coronavirus pandemic hit Northern Virginia, the staff at Inca Social was cut down and the dining room was closed, something that co-owner Fito Garcia says was “extremely depressing and upsetting.” 

But the Peruvian restaurant in Vienna isn’t losing faith. Here, Garcia gives us an inside look at Inca Social’s behind-the-scenes efforts during the pandemic. See highlights from our conversation below.

When the pandemic started spreading in Northern Virginia, what immediate steps did you take for Inca Social?

We increased cleaning and bought as much sanitizer and cleaning supplies as we could to make sure we could keep Inca Social clean for our staff and customers. We also had to limit the number of customers allowed in the restaurants, following Virginia guidelines.

What was your first reaction to the news that restaurants would be closing? What was closing Inca Social’s dining room like for you?

We were all nervous about our business but knew closing the dining room was the best thing to do for the safety of our community. Closing our dining room was extremely depressing and upsetting, but we stayed positive and kept reminding ourselves to take everything one day at a time.

How has your business strategy changed at Inca Social, and what is the team doing to stay connected with customers?

Our business has focused on to-go food and delivery, like most restaurants, added more delivery services and created our own delivery system. We focused on also selling beer and wine to-go since we had the license to do so, and now we offer to-go mix drinks. We just started to offer meal kits for our guests to buy and cook at home and groceries to add more sources of revenue. Our partners believe in always helping the community, which is why we have been focusing also on helping to buy meals for our front line workers as well as for some underprivileged families, and now we have a program where the community can buy meals for them and we’ll deliver.

What keeps you hopeful right now?

Watching our community come together and help one another has kept us very hopeful.

What are you looking forward to most once you can reopen the restaurant fully?

Being able to bring our employees back full time so they can be financially stable again. We are also looking forward to hosting our guests for them to enjoy the best Peruvian food and be able to be social with one another.  

Which NoVA restaurants have you been ordering from lately?

We like to support the local restaurants that are around us, like The Halal Guys, Jersey Mike’s Subs, Bartaco, BlackFinn Ameripub and Lost Dog Cafe.

What would you like to tell readers and your customers?

I would like to thank everyone that has been ordering food from the local restaurants regularly and supporting them on social media because those actions go a long way in helping each of our businesses.

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