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Celebrating National Hispanic Heritage Month Through Stories

Hispanic entrepreneurs

Seven Latino-owned businesses to celebrate and support this month and beyond.

National Hispanic Heritage Month, which begins on September 15 and ends on October 15, celebrates the culture and history of Hispanic Americans, as well as recognizes their contributions to and influence on the United States—and rightfully so. Over the past decade, Hispanic Americans have played a major role in driving U.S. population growth, making up nearly one-in-five people in the U.S. and becoming the largest racial or ethnic group in California.

There are about 4.7 million Hispanic-owned businesses in the U.S., which collectively contribute more than $800 billion to the American economy every year. Additionally, Latinos start 82% of all new companies in the U.S. and open businesses at three times the rate of the national average; Latina women, in particular, start businesses at six times the national rate. And in February 2020, Latinos accounted for 82% net new growth across the entire U.S. workforce.

In honor of National Hispanic Heritage Month, we are sharing the stories of Hispanic entrepreneurs and East West Bank clients whose tenacity and perseverance turned ideas into viable and successful businesses that you can support.

1. Tommy’s Mexican Restaurant

Known for their delicious Yucatecan food, warm welcome, and world-class selection of fine tequilas, Tommy’s Mexican Restaurant is a local San Francisco favorite whose roots date back to 1965. However, like many other restaurants in the early months of COVID-19 pandemic, Tommy’s was forced to close its doors when California issued a statewide mandatory shutdown. Cash-strapped, this mom-and-pop shop found a way to pivot and stay in business by selling bottles of quality tequilas, cocktails, and margarita mixes with their food, in addition to securing a Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan through East West Bank. Read more about how Tommy’s Mexican Restaurant successfully pivoted and used a PPP loan to continue delivering their restaurant experience during COVID-19 pandemic at Pandemic Pivots: Tommy’s Mexican Restaurant.

Members of the Bermejo’s family, owners of Tommy’s Mexican Restaurant

2. Raquel’s Candy N’ Confections

A party supplies store in Downtown Los Angeles, Raquel’s Candy N’ Confections opened its doors more than three decades ago by husband and wife, Roberto and Raquel Luna, who started by importing traditional Hispanic products, groceries and candy from Mexico. After they retired, their three sons took over and put their own 21st century spin on the family business by finding a niche and streamlining business operations.

These millennial entrepreneurs focused on making and customizing piñatas, running a piñata factory in the center of LA’s so-called Piñata District, launching an e-commerce site, and consolidating their loans with the help of East West Bank. Learn more about how three brothers took charge of their family business, and brought new ideas and success to a long-standing piñata-making tradition at Millennial Entrepreneurs Remake a Piñata Business for a New Generation.

Chris Luna, chief financial officer of Raquel’s Candy N’ Confections

3. Novacane Bar and Grill

Tucked in a mini-mall complex in a predominantly Latino neighborhood, Novacane Bar and Grill is a full liquor bar geared towards millennials, an untapped market in the Southeast Los Angeles area. This is the place where art by urban street artists covers the walls inside and outside, craft cocktails are named after songs, and traditional Mexican food is served next to vegan options like buffalo cauliflower. This hip neighborhood bar in Huntington Park is the result of the creative vision of Instagram influencer Angie Martinez, her entrepreneur mother Lupe Martinez, and East West Bank, who provided the financing to make this small business come alive. Learn more about how a mother and daughter incorporated the best of each generation into a thriving business at Novacane: A Hip Dive Bar for a New Generation.

Lupe Martinez, co-owner of Novacane Bar and Grill

4. Tepeyac Restaurant & Tequila Sports Bar

A family-run business, Tepeyac Restaurant & Tequila Sports Bar located in the City of Industry is run by the owner Joey Duran. Coming from a family of restaurateurs, Duran proudly carries on the family tradition and continues the success that started by his grandfather Salvador Rojas more than 70 years ago when he opened his first restaurant in Los Angeles back in 1942. To stay successful, Duran stresses the importance of providing consistency when it comes to food, having the best customer service, thinking outside the box, and engaging with the local community. Read more about the restaurateur and owner of Tepeyac Restaurant, and the secrets to the success of his family-owned business, at Tepeyac Restaurant: Expanding a Family Legacy.

People enjoying a meal at Tepeyac Restaurant & Tequila Sports Bar

5. Purrrfect Paws Grooming

Purrrfect Paws Grooming is a local Los Angeles pet store that was founded by a family whose passion and experience led them to establish their own pet grooming business. Since the moment they opened their doors in 2012, Purrrfect Paws Grooming has provided the local community with professional hygienic pet care and spa treatments. When it came time for them to expand, Purrrfect Paws was able to secure a working capital loan from East West Bank and get more space, merchandise, and equipment to take in double the number of customers. Learn more about Purrrfect Paws and how a microloan helped them expand their business at SBA Microloans: Small, Easy and Flexible Funding.

Jessica Tobar from Purrrfect Paws Grooming

6. Camely Furniture

When Carlos Robert Castillo first came to Los Angeles, he knew nothing about furniture making. Now, Castillo, a client of East West Bank, operates his own high-end custom furniture company, Camely Furniture, and has been in business for over 40 years.

But success didn’t just fall into Castillo’s lap—it took a couple tries before he found the right niche for himself. Starting a production furniture business first, Castillo then pivoted into making custom furniture for high-end stores and interior designers that proved to be more profitable—and more fulfilling. Learn more about how the owner of this custom furniture company found the right niche and expanded his business with the help of an SBA loan at Camely Furniture: Putting “Custom” in Customer Relationship.

Carlos Robert Castillo and his daughter, Melissa, from Camely Furniture

7. L.A. Farmacia Natural

When Neyda Carballo-Ricardo arrived in New York with two young children, after leaving a socialist regime in Cuba, she had nothing but a suitcase, a few dollars in her pocket and a strong desire to start a new life to provide better options for her children. After working tirelessly to get her degrees, all while raising her children, Carballo-Ricardo now has a thriving family business that sells health and nutritional supplements called L.A. Farmacia Natural. In addition to selling supplements, she also speaks on multiple Spanish radio programs daily and offers free consulting sessions and clinics at her community spa. Learn more about how the owner of L.A. Farmacia Natural defined her target market, grew a loyal customer base and built her business at L.A. Farmacia Natural: Growing Your Audience.

An associate at L.A. Farmacia

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