MESA, AZ — The restaurant industry has been one of the most impacted during this pandemic.
But times are even tougher for entrepreneurs who speak more Spanish than English. An issue that the City of Mesa is trying to mitigate by offering a free six-week business coaching program in Spanish.
“The program is really dedicated to that thought process of where we are now, where we would like to be and what's the framework to get us from A to B,” explained Gabe Gardner with Local First Arizona.
Local First Arizona partnered with the City of Mesa to provide Spanish-speaking restaurateurs with tools to improve their businesses. The program started on Oct. 10, but people can still register through the City of Mesa.
The program offers classes every Saturday. Some of the topics include food service math and costing, ideas to create profitable menus, finances, marketing, and best practices for social media, among others.
Gardner says the program is one of a kind and hopes more people can join and take advantage of it.
“Particularly in restaurants you’re so caught up in the day to day of ordering and cooking, cleaning, taking care of customers that it's hard to find time to look at where the business is now and where the business is growing to,” Gardner says.
“Now we’re trying different things to bring people to our restaurant,” said Pablo Montes, the owner of Bere’s Mexican Food in Mesa.
Montes is an immigrant from Veracruz, Mexico. He says he had always dreamed of owning a restaurant, but he never expected it would happen during a global pandemic.
“When the pandemic hit, we got really slow because we don’t have a drive-thru and our sales went dramatically down. It’s been really hard.”
Montes says he found some relief thanks to the Mesa Cares Restaurant Bootcamp.
“We’re trying to survive now with different ideas that we grabbed from those courses and the bootcamp. I’m very grateful.”
For him, the program went beyond business strategies, Montes says he found a sense of community by being able to share their stories with business owners like him in Spanish.
“You can understand better if it’s in your native language. I was fortunate to take it in English and Spanish, but I can tell the difference. It’s much better in your native language.”