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Son's TikTok saves Salt Lake City family restaurant

Posted at 9:39 PM, Jun 14, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-14 23:48:20-04

SALT LAKE CITY — Thanks to a viral TikTok video, a struggling local business was saved after the owner almost closed his doors for good.

At Nico's Mexican Restaurant on North Temple, the family business has served enchiladas, tacos and many other meals for almost 10 years.

But like many small businesses, the pandemic almost took them out.

"After the pandemic, it was really slow," said Nico Cardenas (translated from Spanish).

Carlos Cardenas watched his dad’s dream almost disappear.

"I see him really stressed all the time," Carlos said. "Not sad, but you can tell he’s trying to hide it."

When Nico mentioned that he might have to close the restaurant doors for good, Carlos asked him to let him try one of his ideas.

"Anytime he talks to me about wanting to quit, wanting to give up, it kills me, because our family, we never give up," Carlos said.

So Carlos didn’t give up, and he posted a TikTok about his dad's hopes being let down once again by a lack of customers. It was viewed almost 6 million times and gained 1.2 million likes.

@clumzycarlos he looks so stressed😭😭 if you live in utah, make sure to check out my dad’s restaurant sometime! It’s called Nico’s Restaurant 😁😁 #fyp #foryou #foryoupage #viral #sad #restaurant #smallbusiness #relatable #mexican #mexicantiktok #mexicanrestaurant #utah ♬ sonido original - :')

Now, the family is overwhelmed by all the love and support they’ve seen so far.

"It’s really crazy to me how the internet works," Carlos said. "How one day we had maybe 10 customers come in in our 11 hours that we’re open. And then the next day, we have hundreds."

Utahns who saw the viral video began flocking to 1458 W. North Temple to give the food a try.

Before this, Nico was hesitant about social media. But now with Carlos' help, they’ve already made two more videos.

"I think now he realized, ‘Ok, I’ve got to be more open with social media And I’ve got to try this out more,'" Carlos said.

Carlos says this past week has been the busiest it’s ever been, and his dad’s hard work has only inspired him more.

"Seeing him fight and then it finally paying off — it makes me really happy for him," Carlos said.

Carlos is now managing the restaurant’s Instagram, Facebook and TikTok pages, and he and his dad are already planning more creative videos.

Nico hopes to be shirtless in one of them.