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A series spotlighting locally-owned restaurants adjusting to the pandemic
One of the longest-standing locally-owned restaurants in the Rio Grande Valley, Taco Ole is known as a popular spot where everyone and their abuelos can gather for a meal.
The community atmosphere at Taco Ole has been lively since it opened its doors in 1973. Driving by in the morning prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, one would see several cars parked outside their three locations (two in Mission and one in Edinburg), patrons ready for café and papas con huevo.
Taco Ole restaurants, along with other eateries across the nation, have had to drastically change their practices, moving from dine-in to curbside, drive-thru or to-go orders exclusively. Priscilla Bazan Mata, the owner of the Sharyland location of Taco Ole (located at 2020 E. Business Highway 83 in Mission), has seen the area develop and grow since her parents entered into the restaurant circuit in McAllen 50 years ago.
Elias Bazan, Jr. and his wife Delia Bazan started Taco Ole with the goal of creating an authentic Mexican dining experience in the Rio Grande Valley – their first location was on Tom Landry in Mission. According to Priscilla, the changes implemented due to the coronavirus were unexpected for their whole family.
“It was horrible – it was heartbreaking to see all the tables empty,” Bazan Mata said. “It’s heartbreaking not to see our customers, we miss them, we miss that everyday interaction with them.”
Priscilla said that neither she or her mother had ever experienced something like this.
“My mom took it really hard, because she started this, and she walked in and saw it empty,” Bazan Mata said. “It was devastating for her.”
Taco Ole has gone to a skeleton crew, and created new items on their menu in order to give Valley residents the chance to still enjoy their signature items and sweet tea.
“People are wanting more family meals, more specials,” Bazan Mata said. “We’ve just been working with our crew to give everyone a couple of days here and there.”
Popular family bundle items include their botanas, the poquito de todo and enchilada platters. All the bundles come with a gallon of Taco Ole’s sweet tea, which Priscilla said even she is addicted to.
“We didn’t know if people were going to come and even do the drive-thru and to-go stuff – that was the scary part, we didn’t know how we were going to handle it,” Bazan Mata said. “It’s been okay, we’ve been doing good, thank God.”
Supporting the local business community is one of the priorities Taco Ole has.
“In the past 15, 20 years, Mission has just grown and grown,” Bazan Mata said. “We’ve gotten so many new restaurants and so many new businesses and everything. The community really does pull together and help out all the local businesses, and that’s the best part.”
Priscilla stressed that they wanted to thank the entire community for their continued support in these stressful times.
“We want to thank Mission for letting us be in business since 1973,” Bazan Mata said. “If it wasn’t for the city and for the customers, we wouldn’t be here.”
Priscilla owns and operates the Sharyland location, while her two brothers own and run the Mission Conway (2316 N. Conway Ave.) and Edinburg (2620 W. Freddy Gonzalez Dr.) locations. The family loves the bonds forged at Taco Ole, and miss seeing people enjoy the food and experience in person.
“Me and my brothers and my mom are still here, along with my Aunt Diana Lopez who is also helping us out,” Bazan Mata said, adding that her aunt has been helping her parents with Taco Ole since the beginning. “It’s a family-operated business, and we’re still here trying to serve the community that has given us so much.”
In November 2019, Elias Bazan, Jr. passed away. Delia Bazan, now 75 years old, is still in the kitchen, still working, to ensure her and her husband’s legacy continues on.
“She’s a trooper,” Bazan Mata said of her mother. “She’s in the back, she’s helping out, she’s doing whatever she can. There’s no stopping her.”
Taco Ole has food available for curbside pickup with orders placed over the phone, their drive-up windows and by delivery through Bite Squad and DoorDash. They can be reached at the following numbers based on location: Sharyland (956) 519-2102; Mission Conway (956) 581-7431 and Edinburg (956) 383-5440.