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Finding ways to ‘pivot’ during COVID-19

By Ariel Fugate
Mountain Association for Community Economic Development

Ashley Bledsoe is the mastermind behind Harlan County’s Taco Holler, a food truck and catering business established in 2017.

After coming up with the idea during a visit to Taco Luchador, a popular taco spot in Louisville, Kentucky, Ashley and her wife, Leslie Bledsoe, got to work to bring a similar concept to far southeastern Kentucky. Finally, in summer 2017, they did an informal study of their food truck concept at the Harlan County Farmers Market.

“The response was overwhelming, so we knew we were onto something,” Ashley said.

Before COVID-19, Ashley would set up the Taco Holler truck in downtown Harlan for one day per week – a day that so many in the community looked forward week to week– and she offered catering services for local events, parties and conferences. A believer in inclusivity, the menu includes a wide variety of options from vegan to gluten-free and keto-diet friendly items, with each dish incorporating as much local food as possible.

Now, with the COVID-19 crisis, Ashley has now temporarily “pivoted” away from the Taco Holler food truck and catering business, and onto the Taco Holler personal shopping and delivery services for those in the area who are at-risk or otherwise in need.

When Ashley realized none of the stores in the area were offering curbside grocery pickup, she quickly saw the opportunity and clear opening in the market.

Taco Holler in Harlan Kentucky is owned by Ashley Bledsoe. She is pictured with her COVID-19 mask and gloves. MACED provided Taco Holler with affordable financing.

“I knew closures were coming and the moment I was laid off from my regular job, I rolled out Taco Holler Personal Shopping Services the next day,” Ashley said.

Ashley began offering the service in mid-March. Services are available from 9am-1pm, and can be scheduled as quickly as the morning of or the night before. She accepts payments in cash, or via Messenger Pay, or credit card upon delivery. Delivery can be made to people’s places of work, homes or any public parking lot, and can be for anything from groceries to fast-food meals.

“I tell folks that I do our best to find everything on your list, except bleach and Lysol. They need to ask Santa for that,” Ashley laughed.

Taco Holler in Harlan Kentucky is owned by Ashley Bledsoe. She is pictured with her COVID-19 mask and gloves.

Prices start at a base rate plus shopping time, and increased based on mileage. Ashley said they are also working with those in need to adjust the price on a case by case basis. Following all CDC guidelines, she sanitizes the vehicle and hands regularly, and wears a mask for all shopping and delivery.

MACED is proud to have supported Taco Holler with affordable financing in order for Ashley to establish the vision for Taco Holler. We are even prouder of the ways that Ashley continues to be there for her community. To learn more about Taco Holler, visit www.tacoholler.com/. For information on deliveries, please call Ashley at (606)273-8480.