COURTESY OF LEWIS ARCHITECTS
Tacos 4 Life will open its first Missouri location in O'Fallon this Fall.
When Jacy and Matt Rose first heard about Tacos 4 Life (multiple locations including the forthcoming 2998 Highway K, O'Fallon
), they weren't quite sure what to expect. The husband and wife were on a trip to Little Rock, Arkansas for a family wedding a few years back and were looking for a place to eat when their sister-in-law suggested the Tex-Mex restaurant. Intrigued by its social mission, they thought they'd give it a shot, but when they walked in, they were immediately impressed for reasons beyond its charitable aims.
"We were completely blown away when we got there because we expected it to be a charity," Matt says. "We were surprised that the atmosphere was so inviting and nice. Also, we're big foodies, so we couldn't take the food lightly. It's so good; the mission wouldn't be as successful if it didn't have the food to back it up."
Now, the Roses are about to become more than just customers of Tacos 4 Life when they open the first Missouri location of the small chain in O'Fallon this Fall. As they explain, the restaurant's mission of helping to feed hungry children — not simply the delicious food — is what pushed them to dive into the restaurant business.
"The founder [co-founder Austin Samuelson] heard a talk about how every day, eighteen thousand children pass away from starvation in the world, and that's preventable," Matt says. "It's the most solvable problem in the world; it's just getting the food to them. They were in the restaurant business, but they had a heart for the mission, and they created great recipes and put experienced and smart people around them."
At Tacos 4 Life, the restaurant donates a meal for every taco sold to the organization Feed My Starving Children, a nonprofit that helps feed children around the world. So far, the company has donated seventeen million meals in its six years in business — a number that guests get to watch increase in real time on screens that are visible at the order counter.
In addition to its mission, the Roses believe people will be drawn to Tacos 4 Life for the food. The Tex-Mex-inflected restaurant serves puffy fried tacos with creative fillings, such as fried chicken, Korean barbecue, chicken bacon ranch and spicy chorizo topped with creamed corn. Also noteworthy is the brand's signature quest, which won the 2017 World Cheese Dip Championship.
Construction begins on the storefront, which will be located near the intersections of Highways K and N, next month, with the goal of an October or November opening. In addition to the Roses involvement, the O'Fallon Tacos 4 Life will be run by Andy Kendall, a high-school friend of Matt's and former top-five-ranking general manager for Red Robin. The Roses are excited to have a seasoned veteran on board, as this will be their first restaurant venture; currently, Matt is a financial planner who owns the local wealth management firm STL Wealth, where he plans to continue even once the restaurant opens.
However, as excited as they are to be jumping into a business with such an important mission, they are just as thrilled to be bringing their favorite restaurant to town — which means they no longer have to road-trip to the next-closest location in Memphis to get their fix.
"We've been driving four hours a couple of times a year to eat at Tacos 4 Life," Matt says. "We've been telling our kids that we are making the trip to see the Memphis Redbirds play, but really, we're going there to eat the food."
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