Business as (un)usual: Tapia Brothers Farms


Yi Yu

Billboards of Tapia Brothers Fresh Produce and Pumpkin Patch in Encino, Calif., on Thursday, Oct. 29, 2020.

Camille Lehmann, Reporter

As Tomas Tapia arrives at the Tapia Brothers Farm each morning, the first thing he does is set up the produce stand that’s open year-round. However, their pumpkin patch is open as the main attraction during the month of October, bringing in customers to celebrate the spooky season.

Tapia Brothers Farm is a family business run by Tomas Tapia, his brother Felix Tapia, and sister-in-law, Caroline. While coronavirus rates continue to increase in Los Angeles, Tomas Tapia and Felix Tapia are doing their best to make sure families can enjoy the holiday festivities safely.

They require everyone to wear a mask, keep their distance and disinfect everything — from the shopping carts to the baskets. Businesses have to limit the number of people allowed but since Tapia Brothers Farms has a big square footage, they are able to have more people than they thought. Satalino said the customers have been really good about following the new rules and keeping their distance.

Unfortunately, with the COVID-19 pandemic and the Los Angeles County guidelines, Tapia Brothers Farm had to prepare for this year’s event differently. They were forced to cancel all their fall activities like the corn maze, train and hayrides, pony rides, the kids play area and all their food concessions.

Matt Satalino, a Tapia Brothers Farm employee, reminisced about the usual festivities at Tapia Brothers Farm Pumpkin Patch from past years.

“It’s so crazy here in October with our corn maze and all the other stuff,” Satalino said. “Across the street, we turn into a parking lot. It’s just like a total zoo every weekend.”

“Obviously a lot less revenue comes in because we didn’t have all the money that comes in from the rides and attractions,” Tomas Tapia said.

Despite not having the normal activities like past Halloweens, Tomas Tapia said the pumpkin patch by itself did ok as far as sales goals.

The family business has done really well this month despite the new regulations and the limited activities.

In addition to their regulars, there has been an increase in people — who are mostly younger — shopping because of the outdoor experience and the idea of it being a bit safer than inside a grocery store.

“About 90% of our customers were young families with their young kids,” Tomas Tapia said.

Although it has been hard for most businesses to accommodate during these hard times, Tapia Brothers Farm has followed guidelines and created a safe pumpkin patch experience.

Elena Rietdyk, a customer, said: “I’ve come here for years now and even though things are different I love Tapia Bros. They always do a great job and yeah, just continuing to support.”

Benjamin Cruz, left, and Marcos Melendez, right, place pumpkins on the ground while Tomas Arias, center, writes prices on them at Tapia Brothers Farm in Encino, Calif., on Thursday, Oct. 29, 2020. (Sonia Gurrola)