Sara and Edgar are the married co-owners behind Nixta Taqueria—a beloved restaurant located in East Austin, Texas. Dedicated to their community, they’ve gone above and beyond to ensure their community is always fed, regardless of life’s circumstances. When the couple faced challenges keeping Nixta open, their community paid it forward and showed up for them in ways they never could have imagined.
Edgar Rico and Sara Mardanbigi are the dynamic husband and wife duo behind Nixta Taqueria, a unique and deeply beloved restaurant located in East Austin, Texas. Opened in 2019 on a sprawling lot with colorful murals and a flourishing garden onsite, Sara and Edgar wanted to create a space that felt infused with a strong sense of welcoming and joy.
“Edgar and I opened up Nixta without any investors,” shares Sara. “It was always about our community. And that spirit has continued on in these past four years now. The space itself is a true representation of who we are as people.”
Despite opening shortly before a global pandemic, Nixta was able to sustain itself by shifting to curbside pickup. Even while navigating a series of complex challenges as first-time business owners, Sara and Edgar immediately started to think of ways they could support their community members who needed some extra help during a tough time.
After connecting with a local group, Austin Mutual Aid, Nixta agreed to host the pilot of a free fridge project, right outside their restaurant’s front doors. Sara and Edgar fill the fridge multiple times a day with menu items and any other food they’re able to provide, and also have help from other local restaurants, grocery stores, and partners in the community. Anyone is welcome to access the fridge 24 hours a day to choose from an array of fresh produce, ready-to-eat meals, dry goods, and other pantry staples. Sometimes, there are even fresh flowers.
“I would say 50 to 100 people visit the fridge every day. It doesn’t matter what time of the day or night—and all walks of life, too,” shares Edgar.
Sara continues, “It really does lend to the idea of solidarity, not charity. Anyone can find themselves in this position.”
After weathering the pandemic, the 2022 Texas deep freeze, and many other obstacles, Nixta came up against a challenge that at first seemed impossible to overcome. In August of 2023, Nixta’s power was turned off without warning. What started out as an electrical issue with the city grew into a whole host of other updates and repairs required in order to reopen. Sara and Edgar estimated they would need at least $80,000 in order to cover all of the unexpected costs.
Sara shares, “We had to furlough our team. We felt horrible. We needed to figure out what to do. So we decided to put our story on GoFundMe.”
For Sara and Edgar, setting an $80,000 fundraising goal felt lofty—little did they know that goal would be met and exceeded within just two days, with more than 1,400 people making donations ranging from $5 to $5,000. Donors left comments along with their donations, sharing why they felt compelled to help Nixta Taqueria.
Sara shares, “It’s the best feeling in the world when you can tell people have your back. The feeling I get when I read those words is, ‘We got you.’’’
As of September of 2023, Nixta is excited to be back up and running, and plans to host an official grand reopening party in the new year—none of which could have been possible without the support of their community. When asked what they learned about asking for help throughout this experience, Sara shared this:
“For me, it changed the way I thought about what the actual definition of help is, and who is deserving of it. More than anything, it affirmed my belief that there is this unspoken bond and connection that we have with one another that transcends the day-to-day. Help is there, and asking for it isn’t anything to be ashamed of.”
“When you do ask for help, it’s sometimes a little scary. But if you are putting out good light into the world, good things will happen to you in some way, shape, or form,” Edgar added. “I really have seen what help can do, and it can change the whole way that you think about what help is.”
Find out how people like you helped make 2023 a little better in GoFundMe’s Year in Help review.
When we all come together and support each other, look what help can do.