It takes a lot to stand out in Toronto’s food scene.
With restaurants popping up every day, culinary entrepreneurs need to bring a lot to the table to be successful. To start, you need to be creative, authentic and have a whole lot of flavour.
Fortunately for new Toronto hotspot El Habanero and Churrobar, they have all that and then some. The new Cuban restaurant serves up traditional dishes and gourmet churros like no-one else in the city.
After moving to Canada from Havana, Cuba, Michelle and her husband Angel decided that they wanted to create something unique. More specifically, they wanted to break down the misconceptions around Cuban food and serve ‘the real deal.’
With Angel’s 15 years of culinary arts experience working in some of Cuba’s most exclusive five-star restaurants, and Michelle’s business acumen and media background, they knew they also had the skill set to make it happen.
They first started with a catering company, El Habenero Catering, which was followed by a mobile churro dessert bar. They had their sights set on a physical location, but getting the capital they needed to start was a huge challenge.
“The biggest issue was money,” says Michelle. “We had already been catering, had a plan but no money. I went to the banks for help and it was a ‘no’ every time.”
Fortunately, Futurpreneur was able to give them the ‘yes’ they were looking for. Through our Start-Up Program, Michelle and Angel were able to access financing, mentoring and key resources that set their business up for success.
While Michelle says finding a mentor took some time, she was eventually matched with the perfect one for her business.
“She is helpful and genuine about helping us succeed in this process,” says Michelle. She says it has been useful to have someone who sees things from a different perspective; someone who notices things you may have never even thought about and ‘nudges’ you in the right direction.
In only a few short months since opening their physical location, El Habenero and Churrobar has already achieved some impressive milestones. They have been featured on Narcity and nabbed the number two spot on blogTO’s ‘Best Churros in Toronto’ list. Michelle also recently won an award for young women entrepreneurs.
“We have come so far in such a short period of time and really made things happen,” says Michelle.
If you’re interested in starting a business, Michelle has the following advice: “Start small. Make a plan and set goals. Think about the big picture and project where you want to be six months to one year ahead. Also, set smaller milestones within that time to get you where you want to be. There should always be some sort of growth.”
Want to be your own boss? Learn more about our Start-Up Program!
Written by Jasmine Williams, Social Media and Content Specialist, Futurpreneur Canada