Connect with us

Business

Why TikTok is dangerously good at making you spend money

Published

on

Why TikTok is dangerously good at making you spend money

As I was scrolling through TikTok the other day, I received a text from a friend.

“I take back everything bad I said about TikTok Shop,” she said. “I just bought a Staub Dutch oven for like $100. And it’s normally like $400.”

I had no idea what a Dutch oven is used for, but I thought I might need one too. I mean, I had to at least check — the deal was too good to be true. Thankfully, I came to my senses and did not buy one.

But I did spend almost $100 on other items from TikTok Shop that day.

Advertisement

Ever since TikTok officially launched its in-app shopping feature in the U.S. in September, it’s quickly turned the video-scrolling app into a budding e-commerce marketplace. The new feature sells about $7 million worth of products a day in the U.S., with a goal of reaching $10 million a day by the end of the year, the Wall Street Journal reported last month.

Although TikTok Shop has a ways to go before it can truly match up to the likes of e-commerce giant Amazon in terms of sheer volume, customer trust and delivery logistics, what it does have is unparalleled command over eyeballs.

TikTok has 150 million users in the U.S., 35% of whom are ages 18 to 24. Teens in particular spend an average of nearly two hours a day on the app.

And TikTok Shop is proving to be remarkably effective at turning that screen time into shopping time.

- section break -

Psychological warfare

It’s impossible to spend any amount of time on TikTok these days without encountering an ad or a video that has a product linked for commission.

And not just any product. I routinely see the same slew of items — specifically targeted to blend into my feed of fashion, mental health and art content — over, and over, and over again until I could practically market them myself.

Advertisement

A brown faux leather shoulder bag, big enough to carry someone’s laptop, a few books, phone, wallet. The Beachwaver, a rotating curling iron that will curl your hair in minutes. A shadow work journal to help you heal your inner child. The OQQ three-piece women’s body suit that will snatch your waist, even if you just gave birth. A 100-color watercolor set that comes with 35 metallic colors and three water brush pens.

Repetition as a promotional strategy is nothing new, but on TikTok Shop it feels like a form of psychological warfare. I’m losing the battle — or at least my credit card is.

This endless onslaught of product videos is being generated by a growing number of creators who almost exclusively focus on recommendation or review videos. They talk directly into the camera while unboxing or trying out a new product. They’re chatty and affable, and they seem like regular people who are genuinely recommending something they’ve found useful or enjoyable in their everyday lives.

Now one video on its own isn’t going to persuade me to buy something, but scrolling through 10 or 20 videos featuring real-life testimonies about the same product might be enough to get me to cave.

“This is the toner that was ranked No. 1 in Korea for months and months and months and months,” a woman tells me knowingly, her hair freshly wet from the shower and two white toner pad squares on her face. “When I was in Korea I stocked up back in March.”

Advertisement

She held up a bottle that I had already seen recommended by two other accounts. All three women had smooth, shiny plump skin — the kind of skin that stays tantalizingly out of reach for me.

Los Angeles creator Dina Asprer said she doesn’t consider herself an “influencer” or a “TikTok person” but had always been passionate about Korean skincare, having lived in Korea for five years after college.

The 31-year-old quit her banking job during the pandemic to spend more time with her kids and only made TikToks for fun. She started putting links to products in her videos in June when the option became available to some users.

One particular item took off — a snail mucin essence from popular Korean brand COSRX. At one point, she was earning commission from selling 600 bottles a day, and now still sells around 1,000 bottles a month.

“I never considered this as a job, but I’m starting to take it more seriously,” Asprer said. She’s even attended a few workshops that TikTok offers to help creators grow, traveling to its office in Culver City.

Advertisement

In another video that pops up on my feed, a woman demands my attention.

“Listen to me,” Katelyn Beaupre says urgently. “If you have eczema or dry skin, I’m about to put you on.”

I don’t have either, but for some reason, this information feels important to know.

Beaupre explains that she works at a daycare and has OCD, which means her hands are extremely dry from washing them frequently. Other products made her hands greasy, but this one — which she purchased after seeing it all over TikTok — was so good she was bringing it in for her co-workers to try.

“I was a little skeptical at first because I really didn’t like the smell,” Beaupre says. “To me, it smells like oregano.”

Advertisement

That video, featuring a lotion by the brand the Ocean Healed My Eczema, has 3.6 million views. She posted about it a few more times. Last month, she made about $20,000 in commissions.

The 22-year-old from Massachusetts has a little more than 95,000 followers on TikTok and makes videos when she has time, outside of working at a preschool full time and going to school part time. But the commissions she’s earned in the last two months has helped her to pay off her credit card debt and student loans.

Commissions range from 20 cents to $7 a purchase and can fluctuate if a certain product, like the rotating curling iron for example, starts trending, leading to more influencers making videos about it, Beaupre noticed.

“Sometimes I try to go for things that are a little bit higher in commission,” she said.

She also indicates in her profile that she’s a “UGC + lifestyle creator,” which means her videos are available for companies to use as user-generated content in paid TikTok ads.

Advertisement

The eczema lotion that Beaupre promoted first offered a $4.99 commission, or 20% of the price, before lowering it to closer to $3.

Maybe that’s why there are countless other videos of creators raving about the very same product. Yet they still feel honest. People showed before-and-after pictures of their hands, legs and elbows, some using it for eczema and dry hands and others for psoriasis.

The company has made it simple for sellers to make products eligible for commission and creators to request free products and post videos with a direct link to generate sales, streamlining a process that otherwise might have required more business-savvy from both sides. TikTok Shop has just two requirements for commission-eligible creators: you must be over 18 and have at least 5,000 followers.

- section break -

Every week, Brandon Hurst sells more than 1,200 plants from his 800-square-foot apartment in Van Nuys.

He carefully packages each one — golden pothos, string of hearts, trailing hoya — with a small team of employees, slaps on a bright sticker that reads “live plants,” and ships them across the country. Then the next batch arrives at his apartment, ready to be sold.

His secret? Live selling.

Advertisement

Hurst makes a majority of his sales through TikTok live streams every Friday, Saturday and Sunday, when he greets loyal customers, welcomes newcomers and talks about the plants available in his shop. He joined TikTok Shop in April before its formal launch, and he’s sold more than 30,000 plants since — more than the amount he sold in the three years before joining the platform.

“I try to turn it into kind of like a show, a little bit like QVC,” Hurst said of his livestreams. “Literally within the first five minutes, we already are at like 10 or 15 orders. It’s incredible.”

Although he already had viral plant videos on the app before joining TikTok Shop, it “didn’t equal sales the way that it now can, with the link right there in the video,” Hurst said.

Live selling online first emerged in China several years ago and exploded during the pandemic. Two-thirds of Chinese consumers purchased a product via livestream within the previous year, according to a 2020 survey.

In 2022, an estimated $500 billion in goods were sold via livestream in China, accounting for about 23% of all e-commerce sales in the country, according to the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. Two of China’s top live-streamers were able to sell $3 billion worth of goods in one day in October 2021.

Advertisement

Although the phenomenon hasn’t quite reached that scale yet in the U.S., platforms like Amazon, EBay and Poshmark have all launched their own live shopping features. The U.S. live selling market was expected to reach $32 billion in sales this year.

Whenever I scroll through TikTok these days, I stumble upon at least one livestream pitching me a product I didn’t know I needed.

Lately, it’s been a fast-talking man extolling the virtues of an electric scrubber. As he demonstrated its efficacy on a shower door recently, I pondered whether I should be deep-cleaning my bathtub.

“Thank you for your new orders, thank you thank you,” he said as he aggressively rang a bell. “You are doing a fantastic job.”

Next, a woman was holding up the OQQ bodysuits that have been viral on TikTok for a while. I had been thinking about buying them for months. She wore one herself, as did another model who slipped in and out of frame.

Advertisement

“Go ahead and snag them while they’re hot for sure,” she said. “We are already selling out today.”

I entered my height and weight into the chat to ask what size I should purchase. I was surprised to hear her address me by name.

“Jaimie, we’re out of stock of the extra small, so I’d go with the small,” she said. With her blessing, I tapped “buy,” selected my size, and checked out with Apple Pay.

Thirty seconds later, my brain humming from the dopamine hit, I’m back to scrolling through my usual TikTok feed and looking for the video that will pique my interest next.

- section break -

Pitching the pitchers

I did not make my first purchase on TikTok Shop without a fair bit of skepticism.

Were all these products low-quality, drop-shipped items from overseas? Were they cheap knockoffs from unknown Chinese companies, like many listings on Amazon?

Advertisement

Given some of the cut-rate prices, I couldn’t help but draw comparisons to companies like Shein, Temu, AliExpress and Wish, where it’s often a toss-up whether the item you just ordered will be of durable quality or complete junk.

The biggest barrier to more widespread adoption of social e-commerce is consumer trust, said Laura Gurski, North America commerce lead at Accenture Song. This is especially true among older demographics who are used to buying from reliable retailers and brands.

This is why sellers earnestly pitching their own products can do to such great effect through TikTok videos. They’re in part borrowing tactics you might see on shopping channels like QVC, where trained hosts create intimacy with the viewer by gushing over products like they’re gossiping with a friend. But unlike perfectly polished QVC hosts in a studio, the TikTok entrepreneur is unfiltered and up close — sometimes even awkwardly so — right there on your phone screen.

Father-son duo Michael and Daniel Jay of San Diego started their brand Lazy Butt Club as a revamp of Michael’s old T-shirt designs from decades ago. They went from less than 100 orders a year to 3,000 in a few weeks after their first viral TikTok video in 2021.

“Ever since we switched to being more personal and showing you what we’re doing and our story, it’s been a lot easier to resonate with people,” said Daniel, who runs the TikTok account.

Advertisement

In one video, I watched Michael pull out one of his hand-drawn rough drafts of a T-shirt design out of a box. In another, he screen printed “Tyrannosaurus Wrecks” onto a crew neck, telling viewers that it would be the first one he’s printed in 25 years.

They joined TikTok Shop over the summer, generating a few thousand orders since then through both the platform and their website. It’s opened up new avenues of business for them.

“One of the intimidating things about trying to work with influencers is having that business side already figured out, like how to pay them,” Daniel said. “I kind of didn’t even know how to formulate a message and ask people, like how much should they get paid or whatever.”

Sellers like the Jays help TikTok establish trust, so the platform has been aggressively courting them with a variety of incentives, such as covering the cost of free shipping for some buyers and offering frequent sales and coupons.

“When we first signed up, we were like, wait — free shipping, like what do you mean free shipping? What is this sale?” Daniel said. He was amazed to learn that a customer could purchase one of their shirts for as low as $8, while his company received the full price.

Advertisement

With all the perks, several sellers said they don’t even list items on Amazon because they consider the process too complicated or time-consuming, and the site generates too few sales.

Chief Executive and founder Jay Nagy launched the Ocean Healed My Eczema in July directly onto TikTok shop.

In just three months, he said he’s sold more than $1 million worth of eczema cream through the platform. It went viral with the help of creators like Beaupre, and through Nagy’s videos about his own experience with eczema.

“TikTok Shop is so smart, it just puts it in front of the right people. It’s really wild,” Nagy said. “They gave me the platform to really tell my story with my struggle with eczema.”

When I first discovered Nagy’s product, it was through a series of videos from creators that appeared during my daily TikTok binge-scrolling session. I have watched enough testimonials — more than 10 — to be convinced of its effectiveness.

Advertisement

But I haven’t bought the cream.

After all, I don’t have eczema.

So I obviously don’t need it.

Right?

Advertisement
Continue Reading
Advertisement
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Business

Column: They say San Francisco is coming back as a tech hub, but it never really left

Published

on

Column: They say San Francisco is coming back as a tech hub, but it never really left

Michael Suswal’s first eye-opening encounter with the vibrancy of San Francisco came in 2017.

That’s when he and his fellow co-founders of Standard AI, an artificial intelligence startup funded by the incubator Y Combinator, moved from New York to San Francisco for the summer.

“Initially we planned on going back to New York,” says Suswal, 44. “But after living in the Bay Area for two or three months, between us we had way more network contacts than we had had in our combined 50 years living in New York.”

Where else would you go that would have more support, more connections, the right type of environment and the right investors?

— Michael Suswal, Generation Lab

Advertisement

When COVID hit, Suswal told me, he moved to Seattle and worked from home. Last year, when he and a partner opted to co-found a new company, they pondered the best place to start.

“We thought, where else would you go that would have more support, more connections, the right type of environment and the right investors? Building a company is hard. It takes everything you’ve got, and even then there’s an 80% chance of failure. So why would you stack the deck against yourself? It was a no-brainer to come back here.”

Generation Lab, which Suswal co-founded with longevity expert Alina Su and UC Berkeley bioengineering professor Irina Conboy, aims to market a technology that can help customers identify and manage long-term medical conditions.

Suswal’s take is different from what you might have heard from the news media and red-state politicians over the last few years. They spin a narrative of a region — indeed, the entire state of California — in secular decline. Of a Silicon Valley whose best days are behind it. Of wholesale flight of money and talent to new, welcoming places such as Miami and Austin.

But there has never been much truth to that narrative generally, and it’s more dubious than ever today, when the Bay Area has emerged as a center of artificial intelligence investing.

Advertisement

There is no shortage of newsy nuggets to illustrate the “doom loop” narrative about San Francisco.

On Tuesday, for instance, Macy’s announced that it would close its gigantic store overlooking Union Square sometime in the next three years. But the closure is part of a major corporate retrenchment involving the closings of 150 stores nationwide, 30% of the total.

Nor is there anything historically new about San Francisco-bashing. The practice dates back to the Gold Rush, when the city’s powerful attraction as a jumping-off place for Forty-Niners seeking their fortunes in the nearby hills generated an equally potent counter-narrative.

Hinton R. Helper, a visitor from North Carolina who would eventually gain notoriety as a white supremacist, reported in 1855 on the city’s “rottenness and its corruption, its squalor and its misery, its crime and its shame, its gold and its dross…. Degradation, profligacy and vice confront us at every step.”

It’s a short distance from Helper’s screed to the map that Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis displayed during a televised debate with Gov. Gavin Newsom in November, purportedly showing deposits of human waste around San Francisco. (That didn’t help DeSantis’ presidential campaign avert an early demise, any more than Helper’s critique stemmed the flow of fortune-seekers into California.)

Advertisement

It’s true that the frenzy in artificial intelligence investing has brought a jolt of capital to the entrepreneurial economy of the Bay Area, but that’s merely the latest iteration of a story that dates back to the emergence of Silicon Valley in the late 1960s — or even to the founding of Hewlett-Packard in Palo Alto in 1939.

The region has undergone a long sequence of technology booms and busts over the decades, but each bust has set the stage for the next boom. In the 1980s, the valley’s chipmakers lost their dominance in semiconductor memory to Japanese competitors.

But within a few years, as UC Berkeley economist and political scientist AnnaLee Saxenian observed in her definitive study of the region, “Regional Advantage,” in 1994, new semiconductor and computer startups such as Sun Microsystems had emerged and Silicon Valley had “regained its former vitality.” By 1990, Silicon Valley was home to “one-third of the 100 largest technology companies created in the United States since 1965,” Saxenian wrote.

The key to its enduring stature atop the innovation economy has been the Bay Area’s infrastructure of institutions (Stanford and UC Berkeley) and legal, technical and financial professionals, and its population of technology workers — all having created “dense social networks and open labor markets.”

By contrast, the Silicon wannabes tend to put all their eggs in one basket, and when that basket’s contents spill out, there’s little to fill it up again.

Advertisement

Miami is a telling example. Its mayor, Francis X. Suarez, tried to establish the city as the center of cryptocurrency financing and innovation. The FTX crypto exchange bought naming rights to the arena where the NBA’s Miami Heat play. International conferences for bitcoin and crypto adherents filled the conference center in 2022.

Miami associated itself with the first “city coin,” a crypto token that Suarez claimed would help boost the municipal budget.

The effort hasn’t panned out. FTX collapsed as its founder, Sam Bankman-Fried, was indicted and subsequently convicted of fraud; the Heat’s arena now carries the name of Kaseya, a Miami software firm.

Attendance at crypto conferences has dwindled. MiamiCoin, which was valued at 5 cents when it came on the market in August 2021, now trades for about 16-thousandths of a cent, if anyone cares — there doesn’t seem to have been a trade in eight months. The city is searching for relevance in the modern technology landscape.

The same sources that talked up the flight of entrepreneurs from the Bay Area to Miami, Austin and other Silicon wannabes are now running articles about startup founders moving back; often the return is accompanied by complaints about the lack of a true innovation culture in their new homes, as well as traffic congestion and housing prices soaring out of reach — much the same as one would find in any large city.

Advertisement

As my colleague Hannah Wiley reported recently, San Francisco’s adherents are trying to seize the narrative reins by reminding people that the city and region offer unique advantages to entrepreneurs, especially in technology-related fields.

One is Angela Hoover, 25, who launched her consumer-oriented AI search firm, Andi, in Miami with backing from Y Combinator. At first, Miami seemed inviting because it seemed to be host to a healthy startup community.

Attending AI events in San Francisco, however, made it “abundantly clear that the AI community was in San Francisco. It almost feels like you have a front-row seat to a play, and at the same time you’re in the play,” Hoover said.

“Despite what all the doom-and-gloom critics say, [the Bay Area] is still a hotbed of innovation,” Ali Diab, chief executive of Collective Health, told me. That’s what prompted the firm, which manages employer health plans, to return its headquarters to downtown San Francisco after allowing its workforce to disperse to a work-from-home system during the pandemic.

“Obviously, you have the AI revolution being driven from here,” Diab says, “but you also have powerhouse enterprise software companies like Salesforce and Slack.”

Advertisement

Collective Health also discovered that the cost of office space in San Francisco was lower than elsewhere in the Bay Area, including Silicon Valley proper. About 120 of Collective Health’s 783 employees work in San Francisco, with the others distributed among offices in Chicago, Texas and Utah, or working remotely.

Diab was an early critic of the “doom loop” argument against San Francisco, observing in a mid-October op-ed in the San Francisco Chronicle that “as a Bay Area native, I’ve had to listen to people predict the demise of my city for my entire life.” In truth, he wrote, “the oft-cited challenges San Francisco faces are no different from those experienced by any other major city in the United States.”

Housing is “prohibitively expensive in almost every major American city,” he added. “New York, Chicago and Los Angeles haven’t solved their homelessness problems and neither have many other large cities.”

The story of a Bay Area exodus always was overstated. The image of Texas’ attraction for entrepreneurs has never moved much beyond three major tech companies that moved their headquarters there from California — Hewlett Packard Enterprise in Houston and Oracle and Tesla in Austin.

And the significance of these moves may be more imagined than real. In 2020, when Oracle announced its move to Austin from Redwood City, south of San Francisco, it said it was building a campus for 10,000 employees; the company has 164,000 workers worldwide.

Advertisement

When Elon Musk sought a location for Tesla’s “global engineering headquarters,” the seat of the company’s innovative brainpower, he found it in Hewlett Packard’s former corporate headquarters — not in Austin, but Palo Alto. He announced his decision to move into that space in February 2023 at a joint event with Gov. Newsom.

Other states have never come close to California in the volume of their venture investments. In 2022, according to the National Venture Capital Assn., California firms raised $78.3 billion in venture funding, more than 40% higher than second-ranked New York. Florida ranked fifth with only $2.6 billion, followed by Texas with $2.4 billion (and Texas’ total fell by about half from the previous year).

San Francisco companies attracted nearly $31 billion in venture funding in 2022, according to CBRE. The Bay Area all told attracted $61 billion, accounting for 35% of all venture funding in the U.S.

Venture investing fell appreciably in 2023, and venture-backed companies experienced a spike in “down rounds” — in which their valuations are lower than they were in the previous round of venture infusions — starting in late 2022. But those trends appeared across the entire venture funding universe, and were more likely related to the run-up in interest rates and fears of a recession than to any California-centric phenomena.

In any case, AI was a distinct bright spot, accounting for about 1 in 5 of all venture deals in 2023 and one-third of all venture dollars invested, according to the accounting firm EisnerAmper.

Advertisement

No one doubts that San Francisco and the Bay Area present challenges. Suswal says he was concerned that recruiting staffers to come to the area would be difficult. When he himself was considering moving back to San Francisco from Seattle last October, he “bought into a lot of the negative aspects of the city that were being published at the time,” he says. “But the city is in better shape than it gets credit for. … All the best people come here, because it’s well worth it.”

Continue Reading

Business

Northrop Grumman could eliminate as many as 1,000 jobs in Southern California

Published

on

Northrop Grumman could eliminate as many as 1,000 jobs in Southern California

Defense contractor Northrop Grumman Corp. has told its employees that it could cut as many as 1,000 jobs in Southern California.

The affected employees are part of the company’s space sector and work at facilities in Redondo Beach, Manhattan Beach and Azusa. The company said it is working to match those employees with other, existing jobs within the company.

Although Northrop Grumman did not specify a reason for the cuts, the U.S. Space Force recently canceled a multibillion-dollar program to develop a classified military communications satellite with the company after cost overruns, a schedule delay and development difficulties, according to Bloomberg.

Recently, space has been a difficult place to do business. Earlier this month, NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory laid off 530 employees, or 8% of its workforce, in anticipation of massive federal budget cuts.

Advertisement

Northrop Grumman said it has notified the state’s Employment Development Department and filed a Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act notice about the job cuts, as required by law.

“This is ongoing, and a higher number of employees will receive WARN notices than may ultimately be impacted,” the company said in a statement.

Although Northrop Grumman is based in Falls Church, Va., California is a major hub for the company. The defense contractor’s historic 110-acre Space Park facility in Redondo Beach was built at the height of the Cold War and is the birthplace of the intercontinental ballistic missile, as well as the rocket engines that lowered the first crew onto the moon and, more recently, the building of the James Webb Space Telescope.

The company also has a major aircraft facility in Palmdale, where it is building the new B-21 stealth bomber, the center fuselage for the F-35 fighter jet, the RQ-4 Global Hawk drone and the MQ-4C Triton drone.

Northrop Grumman also has facilities in San Diego, Sunnyvale, Northridge, Woodland Hills and Ventura County. In all, the company employs about 30,000 people across the state.

Advertisement
Continue Reading

Business

Video shows burglar vandalizing East Hollywood restaurant, causing $80,000 in damage

Published

on

Video shows burglar vandalizing East Hollywood restaurant, causing $80,000 in damage

It was a typical Sunday at El Zarape.

Families enjoyed Mexican food and good vibes at the East Hollywood restaurant inside a strip mall on Melrose Avenue as CicLAvia shut the street down to traffic.

But the next morning, when the first cook of the day showed up Monday at the restaurant, an entirely different scene awaited. She called the owner, Beto Mendez, right away.

At first, Mendez thought it might be some graffiti on the outside of the restaurant. He was wrong.

El Zarape on Melrose remains closed after burglar vandalized the restaurant.

Advertisement

(Jason Armond/Los Angeles Times)

“The minute I got there I was in shock,” Mendez told The Times in an interview. “I saw the place completely destroyed.”

Mendez said there was $80,000 worth of damage inside.

Chairs were flipped over and tables were askew. One bar had been bashed in with a hammer while all the TVs were spray-painted with graffiti. Spray paint covered one of the bar’s surveillance cameras and seemingly all of the restaurant’s walls. A safe with $20,000 was taken.

Advertisement

The incident was first reported by L.A. Taco.

Surveillance video shows a man in a light-colored hoodie and dark pants and Nikes shaking a can of spray paint inside the bar before any damage was done. The man then sprays one of the surveillance cameras with paint, video shows. While Mendez could not see any other people in the videos, he assumed that there was more than one vandal, based on the amount of damage, which included “C14” tagged on the walls.

Alberto Mendez is the owner of El Zarape on Melrose.

Alberto Mendez, the owner of El Zarape on Melrose, stands in his restaurant which was recently damaged when burglars broke in and ransacked the place.

(Jason Armond/Los Angeles Times)

Police told Mendez that the vandalism was related to the C-14 gang, also known as Clanton, he said. The Los Angeles Police Department did not immediately provide comment on the situation.

Advertisement

C-14 is a gang that has existed in Los Angeles for about a century, originating on Clanton Street, which was later renamed 14th Place, according to a website that documents street gangs.

The gang is active in the neighborhood, with tags up and down Melrose.

The group even tagged a local house of worship, Trinity Episcopal Church, scrawling “C14” on its marquee in spray paint.

“This area is like an epicenter for a couple gangs,” said a man who works near El Zarape, who asked to remain anonymous out of safety concerns. “MS-13 and C-14 as well as some other little local cliques. There’s a lot of tagging all around the neighborhood.”

“If someone tagged the inside of the restaurant, it’s pretty serious,” he said.

Advertisement

For Mendez, the destruction of his restaurant could not come at a worse time. Just two weeks ago, his ex-wife died. Mendez shared custody of their two teen daughters with her and now has full custody of them.

“They have that pressure and that stress of losing their mom already and I haven’t really told them nothing about the restaurant right now,” he said. “I would rather keep it to myself and handle it.”

Mendez is trying to raise money to reopen the restaurant and fix the damage via GoFundMe.

While Mendez said that the restaurant has had relatively few problems in the seven years it has been open, there was an incident after the Super Bowl on Feb. 11, according to Mendez and the other person who worked at a nearby business.

That day, the two men said, after the Kansas City Chiefs beat the San Francisco 49ers in Las Vegas, a man fired a gun into the air near El Zarape, then barricaded himself inside and police SWAT teams had to respond to arrest him.

Advertisement
Continue Reading

Trending