Takeout place a hit with shut-in diners
Many would scuttle plans for opening a new restaurant amid the chaos of a pandemic, but owner Analisa Defiesta says the PickUp Line’s first day was perfect.
The Defiestas filled nearly 300 takeout orders from a Main St. barn that formerly housed Norel Farm Bakery in Hillsboro. It has sold out every meal service since.
“We really feel that it was God-led,” she said. “If not for the COVID, we may not have opened. We were both furloughed and had the time to do the restaurant. It was our project.”
She and her husband, Mitch, moved to Hillsboro from San Diego in 2015. Analisa took a position as a lifelong-learning coordinator at Tabor College and Mitch worked as sleep tech at PM Sleep Labs.
Analisa decided to pour her a lifetime of experience cooking for her large, diverse, family into a catering business, Wok and Rolls, which offered a variety of Hawaiian, Mexican, and Filipino foods.
The venture gained a following as a regular vendor at Hillsboro’s Arts and Crafts Fair.
A business selling takeout at “pop-up” sites grew into the PickUp Line.
“Our lumpia — Filipino egg rolls that are like an egg roll but better — that’s what were known for,” she said. “We have had customers that told us they came from Wichita for the lumpia.”
The owners of Norel Bakery, Norman and Rachel Schmidt, offered to sell the building.
The Defiestas then purchased restaurant equipment from Tabor College and spent three weeks brightening up the space with new paint and floors.
“Luckily we have a family that is very talented,” Analisa said. “We are do-it-yourselfers. It was a team effort.”
Their customers were thrilled the pair found a permanent home for their business, but opening during a steep recession is still risky.
“It’s very scary when you don’t know what things are going to look like,” she said.
The uncertainty has spurred the couple toward a cautious business plan.
PickUp Line serves one takeout plate each day on Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays and some Sundays. A new menu is announced each week, which helps keep the PickUp Line fresh for diners who want variety.
“People want to keep trying new things from us,” Analisa. “It’s not like McDonald’s, where people get sick of eating at McDonald’s.”
A flexible menu allows the couple to respond to food supply shortages. Rancher friends have helped by selling them beef at below market prices.
“They had time reserved at the processor before the pandemic, so it has not slowed us down,” she said. “We have been able to keep our prices very reasonable.”
Analisa still is trying to find a balance that will allow her to serve customers without overbuying or turning anyone away.
“There have been days we have sold out before we have even opened,” she said. “Learning the business has been the most challenging part.”
Positive feedback they received from a community grateful for another dining option has been overwhelming at times.
The night of Hillsboro’s Cruise-In, the PickUp Line filled 236 orders between 5 and 8 p.m.
“We sold close to 800 tacos during that time,” Analisa said.
Fellowship provided by customers also has been gratifying as businesses reopen.
The PickUp Line is geared for takeout, but customers who want to enjoy a Southern California beach vibe can dine in a remodeled dining room.
“We would love to have the company,” she said. “We want everyone to feel very welcome.”