When I was 11, my mom opened a Colombian Bodega/Deli in East Hampton, New York. I remember working the register with a metal box and calculator on the first day. When I wasn’t at school, my mom would ask me to give her a hand. I didn’t enjoy the first few years, especially on the weekends as a kid, and preferred to play. As time passed, I realized this was feeding my family, and as my mom was a single mother, I had to step up.

As I began to enjoy working more, I decided to go to school for business. I learned a lot about finance and marketing. I worked with my mom, and after I began bartending and realized I wanted to get my master’s in Hospitality. The school from Switzerland had a sister school in Spain, where I had to do a six-month internship, and I was lucky to be chosen by the Ritz of Barcelona as a server in one of the best restaurants.

Being an American and living in Europe like I did for one year changed my mindset! I started enjoying the simple things of life. I arrived with 5 bags full of crap and returned to the USA with a small carry-on and my same dream of opening a restaurant. The restaurant director of the Ritz was a good friend of the executive chef at the Ritz in Miami, so I landed the job as front-of-the-house supervisor.

It’s been 15 years working my way up in the industry, but I wasn’t fond of wearing suits and shaving my beard every day. I always had a more back-of-the-house personality, yet I knew I was doing this because I had a purpose. I tried to spend no more than one year and a half in places to learn as much as possible in corporate, mom-and-pop, and high-end settings when I discovered it was time to make a shift and work in a place I see myself hanging out.

I partnered up with a group that was opening up a brewery that served Texas BBQ; it took three years to open, and we ended up splitting, but I learned all about BBQ and liked the kitchen and the fire more than the taproom.

Since 2018 I have had my own pop-up. I developed my recipes and ensured all my food came out with consistency, which was one of the main issues I encountered in the industry! I feel good now that I am building a brand with a solid structure.