At Miss Details, we love the amazing work that our clients do in their communities, and wanted to showcase the business owners and entrepreneurs whose visions we’ve helped fulfill. This is the first in a new feature series where we’ll be talking to business owners about their stories, the lessons they’ve learned, the impact they’ve had, and how nailing down the details helped propel them along the way.
Revolu modern taqueria + bar is a fantastic restaurant with two locations in Arizona, run by married couple Deena and Jeremiah Gracia. We have really enjoyed working with the Gracias to showcase their delicious food and fun atmosphere, and the authenticity and quality of their mission and food.
The owners of Revolu and their journey
For Deena and Jeremiah Gracia, Revolu was more than just their restaurant.
It was the culmination of both of their professional careers: Jeremiah, the chef, worked his way up from a dishwashing job at Red Lobster to learning under Wolfgang Puck and cooking at the Four Seasons; Deena, the organizer, spent her career working in the corporate side of the culinary business. They met in the restaurant world, and had built their lives on top of it.
It was also the way they could provide for their family: their four daughters—Alina (17), Ella (15), Olivia (10), and Amilia (8)—and two dogs, Dexter and Pepper.
“It was a concept and dream that we had at our dining room table,” Deena said. “We went back and forth—when we opened our first restaurant, it had to be meaningful, it had to be something we’re passionate about, and we went back and forth and this is the concept that we came up with.”
The restaurant was named after Avenida Revolucion, the famous street in Tijuana, Mexico where Jerry used to visit with his grandparents when he was a child. It was an oasis of sights and smells, of music and entertainment, a place to be no matter what time of day, week, or year.
Though the shopping part of those trips were never his favorite, that all changed when it was time to eat.
“The best part of the day trip would be lunch and snacks and street tacos and just the smells and noises of Tijuana and Revolution Avenue,” Jerry recalled. “All the street snacks, the tropical fruits with lime and chili powder, the churros...as a little kid, I loved it.”
“I hope that one day I can take my children there, and say ‘I can’t believe this taco vendor is still there after 30 years,’ or whatever. It’s a place I’d love to take my kids one day, if we had the time.”
Selling tacos and assorted Mexican-American cuisine and drinks made almost entirely with in-house ingredients—from house-marinated carne asada to their pineapple-habanero tequila they use in their margaritas—Revolu was an instant hit in Peoria when it opened in 2016, and the Gracias expanded to a second location in Phoenix earlier this year.
Both locations captivate the senses, with interior and exterior walls adorned with Chicano artwork, including scenes of the Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) and murals that represent the Gracias family, Deena’s hometown of Seattle, and more, with a stylish interior and catchy, colorful tiles on the exterior fence. It’s clear from appearances that the Gracias did everything they could to make their vision come true.
But when COVID-19 hit, that dream was suddenly in serious trouble.
The two restaurants, which combined could seat about 400 people at once, had to cut their capacities in half due to state regulations, and to help keep their communities healthy and safe.
Luckily for the Gracias, they were working with Tanya Gagnon and the Miss Details team. They were connected by the Gracias' landlord, Terry Brodkin, owner of Terry Brodkin & Associates. As an experienced business owner and landlord, Terry knew the importance of marketing a new location and covered the initial investment of Tanya's services for the Gracias. When the initial paid engagement ended, Jerry and Deena were more than happy to renew their contract on their own dime.
“She really helped us navigate through COVID,” Deena said. “Different practices, different takeout ideas and concepts, how to stay safe and how to offer guests an experience outside of the restaurant, because they couldn’t be inside the restaurant.”
The beginning of a wonderful relationship
Tanya and the Gracias started working together when they opened their Phoenix location, their plan being to focus most of Miss Details’ expertise on their brand-new spot and develop a loyal following similar to the one they had in Peoria.
Instead, the coronavirus forced the Gracias to close their Phoenix restaurant down temporarily and focus on Peoria. That meant Tanya had to adjust on the fly, coming up with a new strategy to keep Revolu open during a national pandemic.
“When I first reviewed what they had, they didn’t have the basic backbone of what you should have to market a restaurant,” Tanya said. “I decided to utilize their funds in a different way, taking the business mindset to what needed to happen first to get the best results.”
As Tanya saw it, the key for Revolu and the Gracias was to focus on capitalizing on the brand recognition and following they already had in Peoria, engaging their customers in new ways. There were takeout BINGO cards, encouraging customers to buy various items to earn rewards; monthly giveaways of Revolu merchandise and gift cards; and discounts based on ‘holidays’ such as National Nacho Day.
At the same time, Tanya was helping Revolu grow its social media presence, hiring a professional photographer right off the bat to make the restaurants’ Instagram page really pop.
“Coming from a corporate background, I had a pretty good working knowledge of marketing,” Deena said, “but not as far as social media goes, or as far as branding and consistency and graphics, I didn’t have any concept of that.
To stay relevant and to stay in people’s top mind, Tanya’s been super instrumental.”
For Tanya, who not only comes from a background in the restaurant industry—having worked for 15 years doing everything from bartending to operations—but also has a large client base of restaurants, working with Revolu was second nature.
“They’re such a fun brand, such a vibrant brand, they’re just so happy and that’s who their brand is,” Tanya said. “I was working on the fly to come up with some ideas that match their brand personality...with the giveaways we’re doing on social media, they’re really grassroots. They’re all about engaging their guests in Peoria—I’ve never seen such diehard restaurant fans in my life! They’re so supportive of Revolu.”
So supportive that Revolu isn’t just surviving through COVID—it’s thriving. Boosted by its increase in takeout sales, Deena said that the Peoria store’s sales are above where they were in 2019.
And that’s just one of the benefits the Gracias and Revolu are enjoying from Miss Details’s efforts.
“We’ve more than tripled our email list,” Deena said. “We didn’t have an email list until we got Tanya, we didn’t have a database, and now we do. Tanya’s been very instrumental in coaching me on best practices, consistent messaging, different things like that.
“She’s been like a counselor to me too over the last couple months,” Deena added. “Every Monday we map out what promotions, what holidays, what we want to feature, so she really holds me accountable and I really look forward to those brainstorming sessions with her each week.”
Of course, it helps that Revolu is about more than just great food in a fun environment: it’s about a fantastic family doing good for the cities they work in.
Each month, the Gracias and Revolu partner with a different food-based charity, helping feed members of the community in need. In August and September, they partnered directly with the city of Peoria, feeding 150 different people each month. They’ve also recently partnered with St. Mary’s Food Bank in Peoria; helped local students who were struggling to afford meals; and worked with Disabled American Veterans, giving away 10% of their sales one day to benefit the foundation, among other charitable efforts.
“We like to feed people that don’t have the ability to get food,” Deena said. “That’s something we’re really passionate about, is giving back to the community that we work in, to show our support.”
“I can’t tell you how much I love working with them,” Tanya said. “They are friends and family and some of my favorite clients all in one. They’re caring and such all-around good people...they do everything right, they give back, they’re a family-owned restaurant.
It’s just such a pleasure working with such good people.”
More Client Features we think you will enjoy
Read about other business owners, their stories, the lessons they’ve learned, the impact they’ve had, and how nailing down the details helped propel them along the way.
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