James and Alexis Banks – both natives of Eastern Santa Cruz County – started the year on the right foot, excited about their latest project as they opened their new taco shop in Patagonia with the help of family member Virginia B. Lazenby.
The menu at Crown B Taqueria offers a variety of tacos and margaritas, while the TV screens show the family’s horses racing on the track. The concept, James Banks said earlier this month, was to combine his and his wife’s travels and love of food, with the memory of his late father who died on the racetrack in 2014.
“We love tacos,” Banks said with a chuckle. “We took that concept and matched it with the memory of my father… We all, today, still get to watch his horses run on TV at the restaurant.”
However, within a few weeks after opening their mom-and-pop spot at 328 Naugle Avenue, the coronavirus outbreak began to take hold, sending the family and their new business down a rocky road.
“As soon as the pandemic happened, we didn’t know what was going on so we shut down for about 10 days and just let everybody kind of settle down,” Banks said. “We had to lay off everybody, and we donated all our meat to the youth and senior centers here in Patagonia.”
He added that, while their goals and aspirations for the restaurant were abruptly put on hold, the silver lining was that they were able to contribute to their town during the tough times.
As they got the business started up again, they did it slowly, at first with a reduced number of staff.
Now, the couple has managed to bring back their regular part-time staff, comprised of five local high school students, and operate with social distancing measures such as setting the tables at least six feet apart and limiting their dine-in services to only half their capacity.
“It’s hard to adjust to those numbers when your projected goals were a lot more, but in the end, we’re climbing back up slowly,” Banks said.