Safety measures ensure success for Schuyler business owners

Small Business

Raúl Arcos Hawkins contributed to this story.

For almost two decades, Luis Salinas, his brother, Jose, and their father, Cristobal, have been serving up fan favorites at their restaurant, Burrito House, in Schuyler, Nebraska.

Mexican dishes such as burritos, chimichangas, enchiladas, and more are made with love every day by six full- and part-time employees.

The business owners have enjoyed being part of the Schuyler community since August 2001, right before the attacks of September 11. During that time of tragedy, as well as now, during the COVID-19 pandemic, Luis says the community has always been supportive.

“When we started, we got a lot of support during a hard time,” he said. “Through the years, the community has been really helpful to us, very understanding.”

Not only has the town of Schuyler been supportive, the Center for Rural Affairs has assisted the business owners during challenging times, too.

Raúl Arcos Hawkins, business development specialist with the Center, has provided them with valuable assistance during the current turbulence the world is facing.

“When COVID-19 started, they reached out to see what guidelines I could recommend to ensure the safety and health of not only their customers but also their employees, as safety was their top priority,” said Raúl. “I have been very fortunate that they are willing to not only listen but take the advice.”

In response to COVID-19 health department directives which affected the business owners, in mid-March, Raúl compiled a checklist of items that would offer best results, and also assisted with digital marketing ideas to promote their limited services.

“Working with the Center during COVID-19, every time we called they answered immediately, and if they didn’t know something, they’d reach out to others who did,” said Luis. “Other businesses have asked me how we’re doing certain practices, so Raúl has offered support not just directly to Burrito House, but to the whole community, too.”

Raúl provided technical assistance to the business owners including improving menu items, increasing business, managing clients and products, increasing employee safety, price management, and more.

The business owners also attended the first class of the Center’s Restaurant Academy, an industry-specific training series. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, classes were moved online, and Jose and Luis completed the virtual course.

“Since Raúl has counseled us in business and helped us be more innovative, we are more confident,” said Luis. “He has always offered extra help so we know the safety rules. He always gives that extra personal touch.”

Luis looks forward to continuing their relationship with the Center.

“We want to work with the Center all the time,” he said. “All staff members are professional and  friendly. They help businesses, and they help the community. They get people to be more understanding. Thank you to the Center and the whole community for supporting us, for being understanding of a lot of issues during this time.”

Social Distancing Heroes

Due to their diligence in maintaining a safe place of business, Burrito House was recently named Social Distancing Heroes by East Central District Health Department, based in Columbus, Nebraska.

  • After closing temporarily due to COVID-19, Burrito House reopened Tuesday, May 19, 2020, with a large influx of orders and foot traffic.
  • Following health directives: customers are asked to wear masks, stay 6 feet apart, only to-go/pick-up orders are offered, and all cutlery and napkins are prepackaged to minimize handling.
  • Although cases have increased, each business can choose to require their customers to wear masks, though it’s not necessary per the local health inspector. Burrito House requires masks for all customers and sells masks for $1.50.
  • All employees wear masks, and only three employees are working at a time, usually the owners.
  • Burrito House will continue to monitor the situation and follow protocols and directives from the local health department.

At a glance

Burrito House
309 E 12th St., Schuyler, Nebraska 68661
Hours: Monday closed; Tuesday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Friday and Saturday 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.; and Sunday 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.