Nayomie Mendoza of Cuernavacas Grill shares the impact PepsiCo’s Hispanic Digital & Delivery Program had on her family’s business
The History of Cuernavacas Grill
How did Cuernavacas Grill start?
My name is Nayomie and I’m a second-generation business owner of Cuernavacas Grill, which has been open and run by my family for 17 years. I’m going into my fourth year of running the business. My dad migrated here in search of his American dream. Everyone has their definition of it, but to our family that means expanding for the next generation. My dad always had that in mind, but he didn’t really know what it meant until he founded Cuernavacas Grill.
Our business was able to grow within the community, but at the beginning there was a lack of diversity and very little funding. We’d grow, and then we had to be detained for whatever reason. Three years ago coming into this, I thought, “Okay, I am an American citizen. It should be easier for me.” But I am a woman, and it still makes it harder, so I felt like I had to battle. However, I got the hang of it, and there’s more support now. Thanks to PepsiCo’s Juntos Crecemos, we have been able to expand. We’ve been able to be part of not only the Hispanic Digital & Delivery Program but were also recipients of the IMPACTO Hispanic Business Accelerator grant and participated in the Taste of the NFL. We’ve had all these opportunities that have been stepping stones to where we want to get.
How would you describe the different support levels you received through PepsiCo’s Juntos Crecemos platform? Could you share a bit of your experience by participating in the different programs?
It started with the IMPACTO Hispanic Business Accelerator grant, which came at the perfect time for us. When the pandemic hit, I was only two years into running the business. When it came to funding, it was very hard for me because I was still fairly new, and minority-owned businesses were the last in line to receive funding. It was a constant battle. So when PepsiCo came in, it was the perfect time. Coincidentally, we were going viral on social media, but everything I was making I was putting back into the business. With the IMPACTO grant, I was able to level out some bills, address other areas that needed funding or better equipment. Not only that, but IMPACTO also came with mentorship, and PepsiCo was able to connect me with resources that I didn’t have before.
Can you tell us about your experience at Taste of the NFL?
It was amazing. I was able to bring my dad with me. We shared our recipe, and I was able to be part of a panel with Marcus Samuelsson, who I watched on Food Network growing up. We were able to dive into topics around supporting minority-owned businesses. After that, people started coming to us because I think they see their story through us. It was an eye-opener, and made me want to do more for the community.
What about the Hispanic Digital & Delivery Program? Did you have any expectations going into the eight-week program?
I knew I was going to be big, because PepsiCo doesn’t disappoint. What I didn’t realize was that it would be a whole consulting team helping us. When the team came in, they exceeded my expectations. We had been gaining social media exposure, but there were still opportunities to enhance my website. It has been a month since we finished and we’ve been getting attention from other companies that want to collaborate with us because they’ve seen us on social media or think our website is so impressive.
Do you feel that your knowledge or skills have improved by taking the course and going through the eight-week program?
As a business owner, it’s basically you learn as you go. You teach yourself. Like I mentioned, we had gone viral on social media, but I didn’t really know how to leverage that attention to drive more sales. People are seeing us, but are they going to come to the restaurant? Now I’m able to market in a different way. People can view an Instagram story we post, and through it learn about us or see the food, and now they can also click to order. It all goes hand-in-hand.
How have you seen the business grow since completing the eight-week program?
We’ve recently signed with a company that found us through our social media and clicked through our website. Now we’re catering room service to ten hotels in the area. It’s only been thirty days, and I can’t wait to see what the future has in store.
What would you like to share with other operators that are thinking about applying to the eight-week program?
Nowadays, everything is evolving. Back then, a business owner could market themselves with flyers, and now it’s mostly through digital channels, like social media. Online presence is key to success, so I highly recommend that business owners apply to get the support they need. I love supporting small mom-and-pop shops, and I’m always recommending this program. You’re getting a whole team of experts that specialize in all the little details of enhancing online presence. I’m just so grateful to be part of this program and initiative. My small business was impacted, and now we’re expanding. Now we have the resources and the right tools to get to where I’m going. When it’s a win for a small business it’s a win for the community. I can’t wait to see how this program impacts other small-business owners!