Felipe Armenta is fighting the pandemic in more ways than one. On the food front, the chef behind Press Café, The Tavern, Pacific Table, and Cork & Pig is taking over a beloved old building to launch a new venture in December. In a more direct way, Armenta is taking on COVID-19 all across North Texas and beyond.
In February, he thought it was crucial to build ViraTech. The new business disinfects and sanitizes restaurants, legal buildings, homes, offices, local schools, and more. The company was created with this question in mind: How can we keep businesses and homes safe?
“We use a solution using chlorine dioxide combined with majority water that kills all virus, germs, bacteria, and fungi and is nontoxic,” Armenta said. “We wanted to keep our restaurants safe and protect the public and our employees. It went from spraying the restaurants to spraying for the PGA golf tournament, the Charles Schwab Challenge at Colonial [Country Club], then helping TCU athletics. That was the beginning, and it morphed into many other areas.”
ViraTech uses ATP testing to provide results to the customer of the before and after.
“The testing equipment was created for hospitals, which have to be below 60 [Relative Light Units], and that’s standard,” Armenta said. “With this solution we use, we’ve gotten some of our restaurant surfaces down to 3 RLUs.”
Aaron Grieshaber, ViraTech CEO, said the pH level of his company’s solution is “near neutral, which means it’s very safe and non-corrosive. [Chlorine dioxide] is a very powerful and effective chemical. We dilute it down to 500 parts per million, which makes it very safe. You need very little [chlorine dioxide] for it to be effective against all these viruses and germs.
“We spray the chemical with electrostatic sprayers,” he continued. “What the sprayer does is put the negative charge of the ion on the chemical and makes it 60 to 70 times more powerful than gravity, so it’s really wrapping around surfaces and penetrating cracks and crevasses to spread the chemical. Positive germs are attracted to the negative ions of the chemical, which will bind together and kill the germ.”
Because chlorine dioxide is a gas, Grieshaber continued, “it leaves no residue behind. When it dries, it evaporates with the water. There’s no white or cloudy materials, so there’s no need to wipe down surfaces afterwards. It also doesn’t give off a strong odor, which I think makes our product very attractive. … I think [chlorine dioxide] is the most effective, attractive, eco- and bio-friendly chemical solution on the market, and it’s 95% water.”
Within 15 minutes after ViraTech sprays, people can enter the building and resume everyday life.
“We’ve been growing and growing with great success,” Armenta said. “We feel like ViraTech is something that’s going to be needed for the future for our loved ones. It’s going to be an essential service needed to make people safe and protected.”
ViraTech is also fighting bacteria in Oklahoma, Nebraska, and California. Grieshaber said that, between these offices, ViraTech’s solution has provided germ-killing aid in applications such as commercial greenhouse water management, agriculture, food processing, hospitals, art restoration, animal health, and many more.
Another place that’s much closer to home that ViraTech will work with is the site of Armenta’s next culinary venture. Maria’s Mexican Kitchen will open in the South University Drive building formerly occupied by Hoffbrau Steak and Grill House for nearly 40 years. Currently undergoing what Armenta calls a “facelift,” Maria’s will serve as a tribute to the chef’s mother, who died in 2018, and will be a cross between traditional Mexican food and Tex-Mex. Armenta’s parents had been operating a Mexican restaurant in San Angelo for 27 years.
“I’m doing this in her honor … for being there for me and teaching me how to cook,” Armenta said. “I thought it would be a great tribute to her to open my first Mexican restaurant.”
Armenta’s family was raised in Guanajuato in Central Mexico. “There would be some recipes that my mom would cook that would really bring out the flavors of what I ate growing up,” Armenta said. “I think her dishes were really unique and held traditional flavors. She always had a really good palate and great taste for ingredients. I really want to showcase that.”
Armenta’s mother specialized in a braised red chile shortbread that she would make for holidays and family gatherings. “It reminds me of her so much,” Armenta said.
He plans on featuring a few of her staple items on the restaurant’s menu. Growing up, Armenta would cook with his mom, so he has all of her recipes memorized.
Armenta says the space will look “totally different” from the former steakhouse. It will be decorated with his mother in mind, using bright colors and incorporating Mexican design.
For more information about ViraTech solutions or distribution, contact Aaron Grieshaber at 800-705-6265 or email@example.com.