For Ramesh Kumar, owner of the Fiesta Taqueria & Tequila Bar in downtown Puyallup, giving back to the community has been his mission since immigrating to the U.S. 25 years ago from India.
After previously living in California, Kumar moved to Washington nearly 15 years ago, bringing with him a desire to give back — in particular to those who keep him and his family safe.
“I feel much safer here (in the U.S),” he said. “Everyone is so helpful in the community of veterans, active-duty soldiers, law enforcement and firefighters. Somehow everyone in this area is part of that community. I want to give back to those who protect my kids.”
Since opening Fiesta Taqueria & Tequila Bar, 506 N. Meridian, one year ago, Kumar has offered free meals on the second Tuesday of every month to veterans, active-duty service members, law enforcement, firefighters and their families.
As an appreciation to his dedication, Chapter 23 Disabled American Veterans recently honored Kumar and his staff for their support of veterans, active-duty service members, law enforcement and those in the fire service.
“It touches my heart,” Kumar said of the acknowledgment. “I don’t do enough to deserve this. I want to serve anyone and their families who’s in law enforcement, a veteran, active duty or firefighters.”
It’s a decision Kumar says comes from his heart, not his brain.
“A lot of people ask us why our boss does this,” said general manager Katie Ellis. “I say that he does it to allow us to give back to the community. We do it to show our gratitude. It’s my favorite night of the month — it’s amazing. ”
Kumar doesn’t stop at serving meals just to those serving and protecting the community, but to their families as well.
“It’s a thank-you to their families, too,” he said. “They’re left behind when they’re gone overseas, and it can be hard.”
According to general manager Fernando Luis, anytime a nonprofit or a private citizen is trying to better the community, Kumar always steps in to help.
“He’s into giving back to the community,” Luis said. “He hasn’t said no yet.”
Helping out the community is Kumar’s main desire as a small business owner, he said.
“I like to be a part of it,” he said. “If anyone is doing anything for a good cause, I want to help.”
His staff of nine fully supports his mission, too.
“I’ve found people on my staff who have become my family,” Kumar said. “It’s not part of their jobs to do this, but they understand what I want to do for the community.”
Ultimately, Kumar gives back to his community as a form of gratitude for his own successes.
“Living in this country, I owe a lot,” he said. “I feel like I’m living in my perfect world. My time to give back is now.”
Fiesta Taqueria & Tequila Bar
506 N. Meridian