I started my first Mexican Food restaurant in 2006 in a Sunoco gas station in Dearborn, MI. A year later the restaurant was moved to another gas station in Detroit at the corner of Livernois and Michigan Ave. Las Cazuelas Mexican Grill serves authentic fresh Mexican food for take out. The restaurant was featured in two Detroit News articles - one in 2006 and another in 2009. Initially the gas station provided traffic that helped me get started and boosted sales over time. Now I think as many people come to the gas station for my food as they come to get gas. I was supported in my startup by the gas station owner and my family. My daughter and other family members work at both the gas station in Detroit and at the new location in Melvindale, MI. We expanded the combined staff from 14 to 22 with the new location.

Website:  http://www.lascazuelasgrill.net/

My successes. 

I am measuring success in two ways. First, opening my second location in Melvindale, MI. Second by measuring profitability. Opening a second location validates my ultimate goal of having a chain of Mexican restaurants. I will be looking for a third location soon. Measuring profitability is important because I cannot be at each location all of the time. I need to control my operations without being there. I need financial results that will let me obtain financing for continued growth. My original restaurant in the gas station was featured in Detroit News Articles in 2006 and 2009. The Grand opening of the Melvindale Restaurant was featured in the local Spanish newspaper Nuestro Detroit May 3, 2013 edition. The Melvindale building was obtained through a land bank and was essentially an empty shell. We added 50% more SF to the building and refurbished the interior. Much of the interior decorations are from friends who painted Mexican theme murals and other art.

How SCORE helped. 

I attended a program with the Southwest Detroit Business Association and SCORE in the Fall of 2011. The program was on financing and supporting small businesses. I also attended an SBA Loan workshop hosted by SCORE in the Spring of 2012. My objective was to start a second restaurant in Melvindale MI. I bought a building in Melvindale and needed startup assistance. SCORE helped with discussions on profitability, sources of financing, obtaining Accounting Services, planning the restaurant setup and enrolling in SBA's e-200 program for 2013. Mr. Muir has been with me through the process to review financial information and discuss my operating plans. He and others from SCORE and the SBA attended the grand opening of my second location on April 30, 2013.

What's great about my mentor? 

Mr. Muir and Mr. Operti have helped me by providing guidance on profitability, budgeting, marketing and other issues. Mr. Muir stops in regularly to review monthly operating costs and ask about progress. Mr. Operti speaks Spanish and has helped bridge some communications issues. Mr. Muir's financial and food service knowledge have helped me understand how to improve my restaurant management skills.

Las Cazuelas Mexican Grill