PASO ROBLES — For the past week, the local talk on social media has been buzzing about one thing, the opportunity for someone to win free tacos for an entire year. On Saturday afternoon Orale Taqueria selected their winner, Nicole Erbstoesser, who quickly turned into the most popular lunch date in all of SLO County. 

“I feel like I won the lottery,” Erbstoesser told the Paso Robles Press. “Who wins tacos for a year!”

Orale Taqueria, a locally owned and operated Mexican restaurant in Paso Robles, came up with the idea to give away a year’s worth, yes, 365, of tacos to one lucky person as a way to celebrate its five year anniversary of being in business. 

“Going into the restaurant business, we already knew that sixty percent of restaurants don’t make it past the first year and 80 percent go out of business within five years–so this is a huge milestone for us,” said restaurant owner Joel Casillas in the press release announcing the competition.

On Jan. 15, 2016, Orale opened their doors for the first time. Five years later, it was on the same day that they announced their big giveaway, which flooded their social media pages with hungry SLO County residents salivating at the idea. In just a week, they accumulated over 4,000 entries. 

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The Erbstoesser family. Contributed photo

Those interested could enter several different ways starting with liking their post announcing the giveaway, following the company social media pages, commenting and tagging friends, and of course, sharing the post, which was worth ten additional entries. 

“This last year was the toughest yet due to the pandemic and shutdowns, but our customers and community have continued to support us, and we wouldn’t be here today without them.” Co-owner Kristin Casillas said. “This is our way of saying thank you for making us a part of your lives these past five years.”

Saturday afternoon, with the help of a social media scraping tool, Casillas pushed the magic button, and Erbstoesser was selected. 

“I have eaten at Orale– I’m not even sure how many times,” Erbstoesser said. “I live in Atascadero, so anytime we are in Paso, we typically eat at Orale. I knew Joel when he was first at El Compadre in Atascadero. That’s how I originally got to know him. He was always so kind and personable. Then I became obsessed with his California burrito.”

While owning and operating a local restaurant might lead one to believe that food is the owner’s number one passion, for Joel and Kristin, it has always been about what food does for a community and creating relationships for those who wander in looking for a hot meal. 

“We will go on walks around our neighborhood or wherever, and he will point someone out and be like ‘Hey, there’s John, Asada burrito with no cheese,'” Casillas says of her husband. “He just knows people’s orders because he cares. It is amazing to me.”

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Kristin and Joel Casillas, owners of Orale Taqueria

Once selected, Erbstoesser’s phone quickly began blowing up with friends inviting themselves to lunch with her, surprisingly all with a hankering for Mexican cuisine. 

Not wasting any time at all, the lucky winner made her first trip to order tacos for herself, her husband Ryan, and two kids Elyse and Reid, on the very first night. While the giveaway was advertised as free tacos, Casillas has confirmed the winner can order whatever she pleases off the menu with her virtual gift card loaded with more than $1,000.

“I’m excited to see when she is able to finish it,” Casillas added. “That’s almost 100 dollars a month of tacos.”