San Diego

Hillcrest's Charity-Driven Taco Shop Donates to Harvey Victims

Tacos Libertad, the Cohn Restaurant Group’s charity-driven restaurant on University Avenue plans to donate 100 percent of this month’s proceeds to aid victims of Hurricane Harvey

A new San Diego-based taco shop that donates proceeds each month to different local charities is steering its efforts towards helping those impacted by Hurricane Harvey.

Tacos Libertad – a Cohn Restaurant Group (CRG) eatery located at 1023 University Ave. in Hillcrest – has launched its "Tacos for Texas" campaign, vowing to donate 100 percent of its proceeds for September to victims of Harvey.

The taqueria, which opened in late May, is San Diego’s first and only charity-driven, not-for-profit restaurant. Each month, the taco shop donates 100 percent of proceeds from sales – after covering its operating expenses – to a local charity.

So far, the restaurant has donated to the San Diego Food Bank, the Rob Benzon Foundation and Meals on Wheels. No matter the venue’s monthly earnings, owners David and Lesley Cohn guarantee a minimum $3,000 donation to the chosen charity of the month.

The charities rotate monthly and are chosen by an advisory committee of local volunteers, none of whom are CRG employees.

This month, the restaurant will donate proceeds to the San Diego-based organization, International Relief Teams (IRT), which helps families survive and recover after a disaster. The organization has, thus far, sent more than $47,000 in food aid to Victoria, Texas, to feed families staying in shelters in the aftermath of Harvey.

The donation from the taco shop will help boost that figure.

“They have been around for 29 years, and they have given close to $350 million to people in need. They donate ready-to-eat meals and supplies in disasters such as this,” Jeff Pittrof, operations manager for CRG said, referring to IRT.

“We really felt that, this month, with all that’s happened in Texas, that we really wanted to give back. There are tens of thousands of people in need,” he added.

Joining the eatery’s Tacos for Texas mission is easy. Pittrof said the only thing patrons have to do is order food or drinks from the restaurant now through Sept. 30. From there, the proceeds will be donated to the charity.

Pittrof said the taqueria’s motto, “tacos for good,” has resonated with patrons. He said customers feel good about eating there because they know, in a small way, whatever they order is giving back to the community.

Martin Juarez, a sous chef for CRG, said he’s proud of the work Tacos Libertad is doing this month for victims of Hurricane Harvey.

“It’s beautiful to work with someone who likes to give to others,” he told NBC 7. “We’re good here; we’re healthy, we have everything; it’s nice for the company to give help, even a little bit, to those in need.”

Tacos Libertad specializes in globally-influenced tacos prepared “a la brasa,” a Latin method of cooking over coal that produces a rich, charred flavor. The tacos come filled with shrimp, skirt steak, pork belly, duck confit or octopus, on made-from-scratch tortillas.

Pittrof said a fan favorite is the “El Tacubano,” a taco stuffed with pork shoulder, pork belly, cheese, lime, mustard, pickle and mojo Cubano, on a corn tortilla.

The restaurant is open from 4 p.m. to midnight Tuesday, 4 p.m. to 2:30 a.m. Wednesday through Saturday, and 2 p.m. to midnight Sunday. After midnight, the taco shop turns into a walk-up storefront, serving late-night, grab-and-go bites out of a Dutch door.

Any taco, bought at any time, counts towards the eatery's donation to charity.

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