Family-Owned Colombian Restaurant Grows weith Help from the RISBDC

The Tabares family relocated to Central Falls, R.I. from Colombia ten years ago.  Pedro and Gloria Tabares moved here with their three sons Christian, Adrian and Geovanny.  In 2006, Gloria’s experience as a chef in Colombia led them to open La Casona, a restaurant specializing in Colombian food and classic Colombian desserts in a small leased space on Broad Street in Central Falls.

Gloria’s excellent home-style cooking from the native land at bargain prices was a success from day one.  The restaurant served breakfast, lunch and dinner seven days a week.  La Casona opened with four employees, all family members.

In 2009, The family turned to the Rhode Island Small Business Development Center at Johnson & Wales University to help them with a branding overhaul. RISBDC consultants and students took on the project and designed a new logo, menu, and created stationary and business card designs.

Two years later, the Tabares brothers approached the RISBDC again.  This time they needed an updated business plan including financial projections that would be appropriate for approaching a lender with the goal of purchasing a building to house La Casona.  They also wanted to develop a plan for an interior design that would create a particular ambiance.  They wanted guests to walk in the door and immediately be transported to Colombia through the aesthetics and décor. While RISBDC consultants worked on that project, the opportunity developed to purchase their own building two doors down from their present location.  The new location would enable La Casona to seat 90 guests, doubling the size of their existing location.

The family purchased the building and immediately began working on creating that ambiance that they asked the RISBDC to create. The Tabares brothers refurbished the interior themselves.  In December 2012, the new La Casona held its grand opening.

Owning their building rather than renting made good business sense.  Once La Casona started being profitable, the brothers quit their other jobs and worked exclusively at the restaurant. They also added six employees.

La Casona is now a multi-dimensional business.  In addition to the restaurant, La Casona features a bakery with classic Colombian desserts.  The building also has space for the addition of a small market that will sell Colombian food and wares.

Since 2009, the RISBDC has assigned seven consultants and two students to work with La Casona.  Most recently the consultants helped La Casona establish an online presence with the design of a web site featuring their menu, hours and an interactive page where visitors can add comments about the menu and service.

La Casona also has delivery service.  Owner Pedro Tabares is the “delivery man.”  Delivery service accounts for 25 percent of La Casona’s business.

The Tabares family is proud of their business and look forward to continued growth with the dream of having three restaurants in the Central Falls area, each operated by one of the Tabares brothers.

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