While many professionals warn against close friends going into business together, the Empanadas Factory Latin Fusion’s success started from a friendship and turned into a brand.
In July 2018, Laura Fraga, Nadia Medrano, Catalina Valdez, Esvin Jimenez, Fabricio Rivero and Jimy Pulido opened their dream restaurant in Jacksonville, Florida. They each had a background working in different restaurants and a shared passion for food and hospitality. After coming up with the idea of starting their own restaurant, they made a pact to work hard, but to never compromise on their friendships.
Responsibilities were divided between the friends based on each owner’s business knowledge and experience. With patience and persistence, the six friends worked for two years continuously learning every day. They soon recognized the need for business mentoring and decided to reach out to the Florida SBDC at UNF.
At the SBDC, they found a Business Consultant who specialized in assisting Hispanic-owned small businesses in the North Florida area, Veronica Bolado. Veronica’s assistance could not have come at a better time, since this is when the pandemic hit. Veronica assisted the friends with applying for and obtaining the SBA PPP and EIDL loans to help them keep their employees and keep their sales up.
Veronica assisted them with adjusting to the new normal which meant quickly implementing safety protocols, adding curbside delivery, and renovating and expanding their patio area. The Empanadas Factory Latin Fusionhas grown and now has fifteen employees. Veronica recently brought on another Florida SBDC at UNF Business Consultant, Jamie Sanchez, to assist themwith enhancing their digital presence. Jaime is one of eight consultants hired with CARES Act funding to specifically assist small businesses in recovering from COVID’s adverse impact.
“Working with SBDC during these times has been super beneficial. With help from professionals like Veronica B. and Jaime S., we implemented changes in our website and grew the business. SBDC serves the small businesses, also in Spanish, at no cost with the only goal to help us succeed”.
As the nation celebrates National Hispanic Heritage Month, this story highlights the true success of six friends from five different Hispanic countries working together to fulfill their dream of owning their own business.