Restaurant says Great Plates program allows them to rehire staff

Local News

CITRUS HEIGHTS, Calif. (KTXL) — To-go orders have been the new normal at R Vida Cantina in Citrus Heights, but it didn’t have much time to create an “old normal.”

“We finally opened December 20. We had huge support from the community and then all this happened,” co-owner Kevin Miles said.

The restaurant had to let go of almost all of their staff, initially just keeping on head chef Cruz Mercado for takeout orders.

But a new program has Mercado bringing more of his crew back to the kitchen, partnering with the city of Citrus Heights for the Great Plates Delivered program.

“We’re hoping that this will bridge the gap for a senior at-risk community that’s not already on a program,” city spokeswoman Nichole Baxter said.

R Vida Cantina is one of four Citrus Heights restaurants already on board to deliver up to 150 seniors each three meals every other day.

Even though they have been doing a steady curbside business for months, Miles said they must once again modify their menu to serve the particular population.

“You want it to have flavor but you don’t want it to go past the guidelines of the sodium requirements and things of that nature,” he said.

The question of oversight has arisen as this federal, state and locally-funded program has rolled out in Sacramento. 

Last weekend, FOX40 reported on incomplete meals seniors in the program received. Critics questioned the quality and value of those deliveries, for which participating restaurants are reimbursed $66 per day per client for three meals.

Baxter said they are taking steps to make sure taxpayer money is well spent.

“The reason we keep this local is so we can get feedback,” Baxter said. “We encourage everyone, if you receive a meal that is not up to our standards, please let us know.”

In addition to allowing more seniors the opportunity to stay home, Baxter estimates Great Plates Delivered will put $1 million into local restaurants. 

Mercado is already seeing a difference.

“It’s more busy,” he said. “All day, it’s more better.”

More information on the state’s Great Plates program can be found here.

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