Interview with Owners Sergio and Maria Torres De Jesus. Be sure to follow Rocky Mountain Coqui on Facebook & Instagram.
How did you adapt or adjust your business in response to the pandemic?
Our first move was to close for the peak of the shutdowns, there was no way we could make enough revenue, or adjust our business quickly enough, due to our limited funds. We took those months to strategize and continue working on improving our process and our recipes. Once we saw better revenue potential we reopened with changes to our menu. We cut the menu back to minimize our weekly expenses, and so we were able to adapt to the strained supply chain. Our distributors cannot keep up with demand on cleaning supplies, and staples like meat and produce, giving preference to larger accounts not small vendors like us. We now operate on a rotating menu that is based on what we have on hand and what we can get that week, while still attempting to introduce new items. We set up an online ordering platform through our POS provider Square, thankfully this was offered for free but the maintenance of it takes time and many of our customers prefer to order in person.
How would you like Fort Collins to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month?
I think any level of acknowledgment is nice. As Latinos, we are not shy to celebrate our heritage any day of the year. A month that brings our various heritages to the forefront for others to share is a great gesture, acknowledging that our legacy cannot be contained to just one month out of the year.
Why do you think it’s important for our community to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month and to support those businesses?
I think it’s really important to support our businesses all the time, remembering that many of our small businesses are Latinx owned and we operate year-round. Maybe Hispanic Heritage month is just a time to get some extra food specials, but if that can encourage our community members to try a new restaurant or visit a new store because it highlights a minority’s culture then we’re doing something good.
What kind of support did you receive during this time, and what was missing? (this can be federal or state funding, support from friends and family, actions by the City, or anything else you’d like to note)
We had a community around us that provided the most support, we launched a GoFundMe campaign which raised $1,000 and received an additional $500 grant from GoFundMe. We applied to other small business grants, which we did not receive. We received “reopening kits” from a couple of corporations that included some useful social distancing signage, disposable facemasks, and hand sanitizer. Due to the newness of our business we were not able to apply to many small business relief loans like the PPP.
What is one thing you want the Fort Collins community to know about you as a business owner?
I wish they knew how thankful I am that they have welcomed our food and our business to this town. All our customers who say they are going to recommend us to their friends, it’s the reason we’re still in business.