Connecting With Patrons: Abuelo’s Mexican Restaurant’s Brian Bell

Abuelo's Mexican Restaurant
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Dining out provides a sense of community for many restaurant-goers and the COVID-19 pandemic has halted a lot of that within the restaurant industry. With many restaurants only open at a fraction of their capacity and restaurant patrons opting for carry-out or delivery, restaurant managers are forced to come up with creative ways to stay connected with customers.

National restaurant chain Abuelo’s Mexican Restaurant, known for its authentic, made-from-scratch cuisine, wants to stay in touch with its patrons during this time and is sharing some of its most beloved recipes on social media to let customers recreate memorable restaurant moments at home. We connected with Brian Bell, VP of Marketing to tell our readers how Abuelo’s is connecting with patrons.


How have your distribution partners helped you through this pandemic?

Our distribution partners have been extremely helpful and understanding during this time. The food service industry is a close-knit community and we’re all getting through this pandemic together. Because of our distribution partners’ support, we’ve been able to continue serving our customers with the best quality dining experience – whether that be in our restaurant or delivered to their door.

How are you continuing to work with your partners throughout the pandemic?

Charitable partners are very important to us at Abuelo’s. We’ve built a strong partnership with No Kid Hungry over the last few years to help its initiative to end childhood hunger. For many of our biggest celebrations like National Margarita Day and our anniversary, we’ve worked with No Kid Hungry to help raise money to help children in need.

While the coronavirus pandemic affects everyone across the globe, childhood hunger is still a great concern. That’s why we’re focusing on maintaining our charitable efforts with No Kid Hungry throughout the rest of the year and help make a positive difference in kids’ lives. Next month, we’re kicking off another fundraiser with No Kid Hungry.

  • BelGioioso Burrata
  • RATIONAL USA
  • Cuisine Solutions
  • McKee Foodservice
  • Simplot Frozen Avocado
  • RAK Porcelain
  • DAVO by Avalara
  • AHF National Conference 2024
  • T&S Brass Eversteel Pre-Rinse Units
  • Easy Ice
  • Atosa USA
  • AyrKing Mixstir
  • Day & Nite
  • Imperial Dade

How were you able to set yourself up for delivery and curbside so quickly across 12 states?

El Jefe Margarita Abuelo's
Abuelo’s drinkmenu favorites El Jefe Margarita

All of our locations worked quickly to make sure delivery and curbside offerings were ready to go when our restaurants closed for dine-in. Prior to the pandemic, we already had both options available through our website, on the phone and on our app, so the transition was less of us moving to a completely new format of serving our customers and more to an increased amount of curbside and delivery orders.

We also want to better support our customers throughout the pandemic, so we’ve included curbside, takeout and delivery promotions to help make dinner time a little less stressful since we all have a lot on our plate right now. One of our most popular takeout options are our Family Feast packages of enchiladas, nachos, tacos or fajitas. Currently, guests can order online to enjoy free delivery or 15% off pickup or curbside with code “15%OFF.”

Did you cut your menu down during this time? 

Yes, we felt this move was necessary to ensure the highest food quality for our guests. This also streamlines operations to be effective at getting food hot and fresh to our guests in this new normal of off-premise sales.

Have you learned any lessons from the pandemic that you’d like to incorporate post-pandemic?

We’ve learned a lot from the pandemic and, with all the changes happening each day, we’re continuing to learn. That’s the most important thing for us. Often times in the restaurant industry, we get into the same routine and don’t shake things up. Now, we’re learning how to adapt on the fly to maintain offering great experiences for our customers. This wasn’t an expectation of the restaurant industry before, but with a mindset of being agile, we’re able to face anything that lay ahead.

Why did Abuelo’s decide to create interactive videos for followers to recreate Abuelo’s favorites?

Abuelo's Jalapeño Cheese Fritters
Abuelo’s menu favorite Jalapeño Cheese Fritters

We know how difficult it is to come up with creative dinners at home every night, so we wanted to give our followers something fun and easy to do. We also had to temporarily remove some of our dishes from the menu, so creating these videos help our customers learn to make their favorite Abuelo’s classics that they couldn’t order for takeout/delivery from the comfort of their home.

What are any tips / best practices you’ve learned for the creation of your videos?

We like to create our videos in a “follow along” style for viewers when it comes to the ingredients and the preparation. The videos are less than one minute in length. Before each step of the preparation process, you’ll see the necessary ingredients for that step, which makes it very easy to follow along. Our videos are also short, which helps keep followers engaged for the entire time. 

How do you decide which food items you’ll create videos for?

There are a few staples on the Abuelo’s menu that we knew would be perfect for this series, like the El Jefe Margarita, Avocado Cream and Jalepeno Cheese Fritters. These are some of our favorite dishes and customers continuously ask for them year-round. 

How have they been received by patrons?

We’ve received a lot of positive feedback from our followers about the videos. Lots of the feedback from our customers are about how they miss coming into Abuelo’s and how much they enjoy certain dishes. They also love how quick and easy it is to make some of their favorite Mexican dishes. We’ve heard that this has turned into an exciting family activity that gets the kids involved in the kitchen. Who knew you didn’t have to be a professional chef to make really tasty food!


To learn more about Abuelo’s, visit their website.

  • Cuisine Solutions
  • RAK Porcelain
  • McKee Foodservice
  • Atosa USA
  • T&S Brass Eversteel Pre-Rinse Units
  • Simplot Frozen Avocado
  • AHF National Conference 2024
  • Easy Ice
  • BelGioioso Burrata
  • AyrKing Mixstir
  • DAVO by Avalara
  • Imperial Dade
  • RATIONAL USA
  • Day & Nite
Joyce Appelman
Joyce Appelman is the SCOOP News Editor and Senior Contributing Writer for Total Food Service and previously the National Communications Director for C-CAP, Careers through Culinary Arts Program. An industry leader supporting education and scholarships, she has been instrumental in opening career opportunities for many young people in the foodservice industry. Email her at joyceappelman@gmail.com