It is not uncommon for there to be a wait to get inside Garcia’s South of the Border Cantina & Grill located at 136 W Commonwealth Ave, Fullerton, but on Nov. 21 it wasn’t because of their bottomless mimosas, but instead because of a free Thanksgiving feast for the community.
Al Cisneros, owner of Garcia’s, said the event was created when his restaurant first opened in April 2020, two weeks after the statewide stay-at-home order was issued and no one was able to dine in. Instead of closing shop and waiting for things to blow over, Al decided to open the kitchen and help the community by giving food to first responders.
Throughout the pandemic the Garcia team was able to make around 60,000+ meals for police, firefighters, doctors, and janitors, all of which was funded by Cisneros.
“Rather than send our staff home, and have them lose their jobs, we kept them employed, with my personal finances,” said Cisneros.
Cisneros recalled that someone told him that he cannot be investing his own money into doing everything, and that is when talks of forming a non-profit began. Soon enough, the name “We Believe in Giving” was thought of in the restaurant.
Shortly after We Believe in Giving Nonprofit came to be, the first Thanksgiving food distribution event was held and successfully served 1,200 plates of Thanksgiving meals.
When asked why he does all this community work, Cisneros responded with a story from Frank Garcia (The father of Cisneros’ business partner, Frank Jr.).
He said, “Forty-something years ago, we were at La Casa Garcia, and we were closing on Thanksgiving to give the five employees we had the evening off, and the doors opened because we didn’t lock them yet, and there was a homeless man that came walking through and said that he was hungry. So, Frank looks at me. I look at Frank, and Frank says, ‘Open the kitchen.’ So, we opened the kitchen and we fed him.”
Cisneros later recalled that Frank Garcia said to him, “As long as I’m alive, no one will go hungry.”
Frank Garcia is known in Anaheim for hosting 40 years’ worth of free Thanksgiving holiday meals and was recently at the Honda Center on Thanksgiving morning giving food to families.
We Believe in Giving will be hosting their third annual Christmas Toy Gifting event on Saturday, Dec. 24, from 9am to noon.
To donate to the toy drive, there is a drop off box at Garcia’s South of the Border Cantina & Grill located at 136 W Commonwealth Ave, Fullerton. Toys must be brand new/unopened and can be from any age range. If you are not able to donate a toy but still wish to donate, go to http://www.webelieveingiving.org