Melvin J. is from the Dominican Republican. He lives in Laredo, which borders Mexico along the Rio Grande in Texas. There are many different types of Mexican restaurants there, but there were few serving the traditional fried plantain dishes of his home country. Fortunately for Melvin J. and Laredo, his wife is an excellent cook. Together, the couple decided to open a Caribbean restaurant called Restaurant Grandes Ligas last year.
“We saw an opportunity,” Melvin J. said.
The restaurant is open from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. every day of the week. Melvin J. said he works the front of the restaurant and his wife works the back as the cook. They serve breakfast, lunch and dinner, and offer everything from jelly-filled Cuban breads to licuados de mamay or papaya – tropical fruit smoothies -- for breakfast. In addition to serving mofongo con camaron – fried mashed plantains covered in a shrimp stew – Grandes Ligas serves tacos and other Mexican food.
“People asked for the breakfast tacos, so we offer them,” he said.
When Melvin J. realized he needed some help with financing the painting and operation of his restaurant, he knew to apply with Accion Texas Inc. One and a half years ago, Melvin J. applied for and received a $500 Accion Texas loan to stock the shelves of another business he owns – a botánica or traditional herbs and medicines store called Yerberia San Miguel. He quickly paid Accion back and knew that doing so would help him build his credit and become eligible for a larger loan.
At his restaurant, Melvin J. said he serves a loyal clientele of people who love his wife’s cooking and the cozy atmosphere dedicated to Major League Baseball. Currently the restaurant employs two people – Melvin J. and his wife – and is large enough for six tables. One day Melvin J. said he would like to expand his restaurant so he can hire more people and serve more customers. For the time being, he is getting known for his international cuisine, one happy stomach at a time.
LiftFund. (www.liftfund.com) is an award-winning nonprofit organization (previously known as Accion Texas) with a mission to provide credit and loans to small and start-up businesses that have limited or no access to credit from commercial sources. Established in 1994 in San Antonio, LiftFund has helped Texas and Louisiana entrepreneurs strengthen their businesses, stabilize and increase their incomes, create employment, and contribute to the economic revitalization of their communities. Learn more at www.liftfund.com.