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Melanie Ilgenfritz, a parishioner at St. Joseph Parish in Cottleville, ate with her brother, Bradley Bathe, of Cottleville, center, and cousin Adam Molitor, of Wentzville, right, on April 5 at Tacos 4 Life in O’Fallon. The purchase of an entree item at the restaurant results in Tacos 4 Life donating the funds for a meal to Feed My Starving Children.
Melanie Ilgenfritz, a parishioner at St. Joseph Parish in Cottleville, ate with her brother, Bradley Bathe, of Cottleville, center, and cousin Adam Molitor, of Wentzville, right, on April 5 at Tacos 4 Life in O’Fallon. The purchase of an entree item at the restaurant results in Tacos 4 Life donating the funds for a meal to Feed My Starving Children.
Photo Credit: Jacob Wiegand

Rose family answers the call to ‘feed my sheep’ through mission-oriented restaurant Tacos 4 Life

The Rose family answers the call to ‘feed my sheep’ through loving, serving all at mission-oriented restaurant

It’s 12:30 p.m. on a Tuesday — the weekday lunch rush at Tacos 4 Life in O’Fallon.

A digital ticker behind the cash register reads 249,501. Then 249,502. A few minutes later, 249,513.

This is the number of meals donated to Feed My Starving Children, an organization that distributes meals to food partners in need around the world, by the O’Fallon restaurant location since its opening in November 2021. For every entree item purchased at Tacos 4

Jacy Rose
Life, the restaurant donates the funds for one meal, a nutrient-dense packaged meal called a MannaPack.

“Hunger is the world’s most solvable problem,” said Matt Rose, owner of Tacos 4 Life in O’Fallon.

Matt and his wife, Jacy, parishioners at St. Joseph Parish in Cottleville, first encountered Tacos 4 Life while attending a family wedding in Arkansas.

“We’re big foodies, and we just fell in love with the food,” Matt said. “We had lunch there on Wednesday, and we went back again on Thursday.”

After the wedding, Matt was browsing the Tacos 4 Life website and noticed the section on franchising. The couple had never thought of opening a restaurant before, but “God put the mission on our hearts,” Matt said.

“I had been praying for a while over John 21: ‘Feed my lambs, shepherd my sheep,’” Jacy said. “I was thinking about feeding my lambs as in raising my kids, and I’d been praying through that. Then this (opportunity) came up, and I was like, ‘Oh, You mean literally feed my sheep — more sheep than just my own.’”

The couple has always enjoyed feeding people — cooking for family parties and bringing dinner to friends with new babies. “Food is our love language,” Matt explained. They had also been feeling a call to help people in need beyond their regular tithing to their own parish and local organizations. Tacos 4 Life’s mission seemed like the perfect answer.

Matt Rose
Matt and Jacy brought Andy Kendall, a longtime restaurant manager and high school friend of Matt’s, to serve as the location’s operating partner, allowing Matt the time to continue his job as founder and CEO of STL Wealth and Jacy the freedom to stay home with their children. Over the course of four years, they slowly built up the funding, location and team to be able to make the restaurant a reality.

“God provided for us every step of the way,” Jacy said.

The Roses chose St. Teresa of Calcutta as the location’s patron saint, asking for her intercession and working to imitate her attitude of humble service to all around her.

“This is the first time we’ve had so many employees to be able to serve and take care of and learn about. What does it mean to love them?” Jacy said. “And we’re not always here when our customers are here, but if we’re loving and serving our employees, they’ll take care of our guests. Just learning about Teresa of Calcutta and her heart and how she lived her life really inspired our leadership model here.”

The Roses have worked hard to cultivate a family-like culture among the restaurant’s employees — sometimes literally, with pairs of siblings and parents who work there.

“One of the teens from the St. Joseph youth group who works here asked her grandma to start working here,” Matt said. “Everyone knows they’re working toward a mission and having an impact in the world.”

As the parents of four children, ages 1-7, Jacy and Matt want to be sure that the restaurant is also an opportunity for their own family to grow in love and service. They created the “Rose Rule,” inspired by the Rule of St. Benedict, as a guide for everything the family does. “Whatever (our children) choose to do in life, they can always be hospitable,” Jacy said. “They can always love the Lord and the sacraments; they can always be courageous; they can always be servant leaders; they can always take care of what God has entrusted to them. Everything here at the restaurant fits into those charisms, too, and this is like a second home to them.”

As hungry customers walk through the doors, the restaurant’s mission is clearly visible in its decor and its welcoming atmosphere. The ticker behind the register counts the number of meals donated in real time. A mural map of the world covers one bright blue wall, with the words, “Let’s end world hunger, one taco at a time,” scripted below. Every napkin holder displays the photo and story of a child who has been fed by Feed My Starving Children. The middle of the restaurant includes tables large enough to seat extended families — or, the Roses know from experience, the linebacker squad of the St. Dominic High School football team. There are even two prime parking spots outside reserved for “outnumbered parents.”

And, of course, there’s the food — beef, chicken, carnitas, Korean BBQ steak, mahi mahi, shrimp, seared tofu, crispy eggplant, wrapped in fried, puffy tortilla shells. Salads, bowls, nachos, quesadillas. Queso that was named the winner of the 2017 World Cheese Dip Championships.

“If you don’t have good food and good service, your mission isn’t any good,” Matt said.

The Roses are already looking to expand to another location, hopefully in St. Louis County, in the next couple of years. “God’s timing is always perfect,” Matt said.

Three quotes from St. Teresa of Calcutta hang on the wall of the women’s bathroom. “Let no one ever come to you without leaving happier,” one reads. Between the restaurant’s mission and the queso, chances are — no one will.

>> Tacos 4 Life

2998 Highway K

O’Fallon, MO 63368

Hours of operation:

Monday - Thursday 11 a.m.-9 p.m.

Friday - Saturday 11 a.m. - 10 p.m.

Closed Sundays

(636) 614-4683


Matt’s go-to

Fried chicken taco: buttermilk fried chicken, lettuce, chipotle aioli, drizzle of honey

Jacy’s go-to

Mahi-mahi taco: blackened mahi-mahi, yum-yum sauce, citrus slaw, lime wedge

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