Greenwood restaurant owners thank community for keeping them in business

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GREENWOOD – The owners of a popular taco restaurant in Greenwood say their business is thriving thanks to the support they received from the community.

Roscoe and Rita Townsend, owners of Roscoe’s Tacos, announced in March they were closing their restaurants in Greenwood, Franklin and Southport. They say the uncertainty and financial burden of the COVID-19 had made managing the three locations unsustainable.

“When the sales drop to $300 a day, you can’t make it,” said Roscoe Townsend.

“I worked on that last day and after all the employees left I walked through the place, sat down on the table, looked around and just cried,” Rita Townsend said.

Not long after closing down, something unexpected happened. Longtime customers and fans of Roscoe’s Tacos began organizing fundraising efforts to give the Townsends a boost. They started making and selling t-shirts and buying up the homemade sauces that were still left at the restaurants.

“I knew that we have a big customer base, but I didn’t know how big until after we were gone,” Rita said.

Supporters told the Townsends they could use the money raised for anything they wanted.

“It wasn’t necessarily to help us reopen, it was just to help us out for whatever we needed,” Roscoe said.

The fundraising efforts not only provided financial support, they also delivered the message that the community wanted Roscoe’s Tacos back.

“I was surprised that people cared that much,” Roscoe said. “It was very much a surprise to me.”

The fundraising, loans from friends and family and a PPP loan prompted the Townsends to announce plans to reopen. They made the hard choice to keep the Franklin and Southport locations closed in order to focus on the original Greenwood location, which opened in 1996.

The reopening in late July draw a crowd that wrapped around the building.

“It was incredibly, incredibly busy,” Roscoe said. “And it didn’t stop, it didn’t slow down for two weeks.”

“I’d never seen anything like it,” Rita said. “I had a feeling I’d never had, and it was a very happy feeling. And an exhausted feeling as well, I was exhausted.”

Although the initial rush after the reopening has died down somewhat, the Townsends say they’re still doing about double the amount of business they were doing before the closed down in March.

They’re now setting their sights on another 25 years in business.

“Not just us, all of our employees that have jobs again,” Rita said. “Thank you, you guys are the best. Best customer base ever.”

“Many times, I think people act in their own interests, but I think this was more than that,” Roscoe said. “I think there was a feeling of empathy and they actually cared and and they were concerned. They missed the tacos, but they cared about us too and they proved that.”

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