Monday, June 17, 2024

Here’s why hundreds of Victorians lined up for hours for tacos this Saturday


From law school to owning a taco shop, Samantha Green and her husband Johl have established an overnight success with Benjo’s Tacos.

On Saturday, January 14th, the Greens launched a pop-up shop alongside Empire Donuts and within minutes of their 11 a.m. opening, the husband and wife duo were swamped!

Over the course of three hours, the dynamic duo served 130 people before closing up shop at 2 p.m.—two hours before their scheduled time of 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Samantha says they had no idea they would receive such an outpour of support, considering on a regular business day, the Greens usually serve 70 orders.

After a chaotic and thrilling Saturday afternoon, Samantha laughs as she tells Victoria Buzz she was crying in the back while her husband was cool, calm, and collected. 

“I don’t know if everybody waiting there knew this but it was literally just me and my husband working. We didn’t have any help. A lot of people came up to the front and they were like it’s just the two of you? There were probably 100 people lined up. I almost had four panic attacks, it was insane,” Samantha told Victoria Buzz in a phone interview. 

Although Benjo’s Tacos is owned and operated by the Greens at the Craigflower Foods store in Esquimalt, in recent weeks their ability to serve local customers has been jeopardized after a fire sparked in the apartment above their business, causing considerable water damage to their restaurant below.

After announcing the disheartening news on social media, Samantha says the support they received from other restaurants meant a great deal to them.

“We had so many people in the food scene in Victoria reach out to us and offer their kitchens. Everyone was amazing. Especially because we’re new to the industry we didn’t really know anybody. It was really nice for so many people to reach out to us,” says Samantha.  

After considering their options, Melanie Laverick, owner of Empire Donuts, and a long-time Benjo’s supporter offered her spare kitchen space to the couple while they waited for their shop to be repaired. 

“Melanie would come into Benjo’s quite often with her kids. She had a kitchen space open and offered it to us. We thought it would be a good way to recoup some funds and also do a little collab with donuts and tacos which everybody loves,” said Samantha.

In the last year, the couple has experienced a whirlwind of success from a culinary hobby that was born out of boredom during the pandemic.

As a lover of Mexcian food, Johl passed the time experimenting with a range of different recipes and flavours, offering a variety of Mexican dishes to his biggest critics – Samantha and their son. 

His tacos became an immediate hit that eventually made it to the plates of friends and extended family. 

“We were making them for our neighbours and our family because what else is there to do? Everyone just loved them. My husband was sick of his job and he needed a change so we just went for it,” says Samantha.

Without any previous experience in the restaurant business, the husband and wife duo took a huge risk and launched Benjo’s Tacos in April 2022. 

“I was in school to become a paralegal, honestly, when we first opened up, I love him dearly but I really didn’t think it was going to be much. It was so out of the left field,” says Samantha.

Upon opening their doors, the community support has far exceeded the Green’s expectations.

In the wake of an incredibly successful weekend working alongside Empire Donuts, . Tthe Greens have big news they are excited to announce to their loyal customers in the coming weeks. 

Until then, they recommend keeping an eye on their socials for their big move

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