Empowering Employees: Soul Taco gives ‘dedicated’ chef his own pop-up night and all proceeds

Richmond

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — In times of uncertainty for restaurants that need money to pay their employees, a Richmond eatery is giving back to one of its chefs in a special way.

‘Ocean Ave’ is the name of the pop-up event that is happening at Switch on Thursday, and the owner of Soul Taco is letting one of his chefs come up with the entire menu — as well as keep 100% of the profits.

Beginning in 2018 in a 700-square-foot building in Jackson Ward, Soul Taco has grown rapidly as a common name in the Richmond restaurant scene — even being featured on an episode of Diners, Drive-ins & Dives.

Ocean Moore, a chef at Soul Taco, says this is a dream chance he was given by his boss for many reasons. His father is in need of medical care and the proceeds will help him be able to take care of his family.

“His kidneys are failing, among some other problems. He’s doing dialysis now,” Moore said.

Trey Owens, the owner of Soul Taco, had the idea to make a pop-up bar called ‘Ocean Ave’ and named it after the chef after the Switch Pop-Up Bar and Kabana Rooftop owner approached him about the possibility.

“This pop-up is actually going to be run by Ocean himself,” Owens said. “We were approached and given the opportunity to do a pop-up at Switch, and rather than Soul Taco do it, we gave the opportunity to our employee.”

Owens said Ocean is an incredibly hard worker and he likes to invest in his employees to inspire confidence in their work — as he likes to hire carefully and help his employees experience growth from within themselves.

“We want to give right back to the community that is helping us define who we are.”

Trey Owens

“We are working for him. It’s an opportunity for us to empower our staff, to put our money where our mouth is — literally. And to really get it out there and show we are invested in our employees,” Owens said.

Since moving to Richmond from Seattle, Moore has been working consistently to improve his cooking.

His passion for preparing food began while growing up and cooking for his family and friends. He says he has learned all sorts of styles, and has an extreme passion for making a solid plate.

“I love it all. I just love cooking food.”

Ocean Moore

The humble chef has spent weeks preparing for the day and what it could mean to him is something he takes seriously, and he says he is used to working 50 to 60 hours a week and tries to help his family financially whenever he can.

“I’m nervous, I’m gonna be here all day prepping. I was here all day yesterday. I’ve been losing a little bit of sleep over the past couple weeks but I’m excited. It’s what I do.”

To support Ocean’s pop-up efforts, you can make a reservation for the event that takes place at Switch on Thursday, Sept. 24, from 5 p.m. to midnight.

WEB EXTRA: WATCH AS CHEF OWENS PREPARES A GRAPEFRUIT AHI TUNA SALAD

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