When COVID-19 struck the family that owns two popular local restaurants, it resulted in tragedy.
The extended Egoavil family tested positive for the virus, but Fausto Egoavil, patriarch of the clan that owns Quinoa in Doylestown and El Tule in Lambertville, N.J., succumbed to the disease. The rest of the family recovered, said his son Jack Egoavil, and were shocked when their otherwise strong, healthy father and husband lost his life.
“He had no underlying conditions,” said Egoavil of his father, who was almost 70. The family closed both restaurants for weeks in order to do a deep clean and ensure everyone else had time to recover from the virus.
The restaurants have carried on since then, with El Tule celebrating its 10th anniversary this year and Quinoa its seventh. Egoavil said that at the onset of the pandemic they ramped up their takeout meals, creating family meals for four that proved to be very successful.
In recent months the restaurants have been closed for indoor dining, but remained open for takeout and delivery. “We wanted to keep ourselves and the public safe,” said Egoavil. While they couldn’t dine in, takeout was busy, Egoavil said. “They could still get the food they love.”
The staff used the time to develop new specials, create $21 three-course prix fixe dinners on Wednesdays, add lunchtime “bowls,” create half-price fajita specials and a locals night, and to switch to using only paper bags.
To make the bags more festive, the staff draws pictures and writes short, upbeat messages on them for their customers.
“People love them,” said Egoavil.
El Tule may reopen its dining room under New Jersey’s virus restrictions beginning March 1. The state allows 35 percent seating capacity and requires masks unless customers are seated and eating.
The months since the beginning of the pandemic have been hard, Egoavil said, as they have struggled to stay in business and to honor their father while mourning him.
“But we are doing what we love,” he said, and that’s the most important thing. When not crafting their Peruvian and Mexican dishes, they are helping out in the community, including preparing 100 taco meals at a time for distribution to those who visit the Delaware Valley Food Pantry in Lambertville.