About three months ago, Jose Maldonado was put in charge of his family's second location of their restaurant, Taco King.
Maldonado doesn't just manage the Azusa location, he washes dishes, preps food, cooks and even helps as a cashier.
This restaurant isn't just another taco stand, it's about a community helping and supporting each other by paying it forward. Taco King uses a system where customers can choose to pay for meals in advance, meals that can be claimed by anyone in need who finds their way to the restaurant.
Angel Bolanos, who showed up to buy three tacos for herself, prepaid for $40 worth of food for some unknown future hungry guest. Bolanos is one of many patrons who pay it forward when they visit Taco King.
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"You're doing something kind for someone you don't even know, and you're not expecting anything in return. And to me, that's a true blessing," Bolanos said.
Perhaps they never meet the people they are helping, but Jose posts receipts of the orders purchased, along with hand written notes from the donors who wanted to help their community and do something for someone in need.
"I'm just trying to spread the love man, hopefully I hope it inspires others to do the same thing," Maldonado said.
Maldonado says he was inspired to help others after a moment in his life when someone had lent a helping hand to him in a time of need. He remembers when his 7-year-old son had asked him for an ice cream, which Maldonado did not have enough money at the time. He recalls the ice cream man telling him to pay him what he had and take the ice cream. He paid the ice cream man back and vowed to someday "pay it forward."
"That simple act of kindness inspired me to give," Maldonado said.
As soon as he began managing the restaurant, Jose planned a way in which he could offer something back to the community.
He would offer to help those in need, and at the same time challenged his customers to buy a taco or burrito for someone who may need it.
Taco King has become more than a place that offers a bite to eat, it also offers a lending hand to strangers in need, one taco at a time.