From Grandmother’s Cooking to a Mexican Restaurant: La Abuela

James Castaneda and Glenda Delcid always wanted to be restaurant owners. James grew up in Mexico enjoying his grandmother’s authentic Mexican cooking. His grandmother’s tamales and pozoles were irresistible. When he was 14, Castaneda got a part time job at Route 61 Diner in Muhlenberg Township. He worked part-time at different dinners preparing him for his next step in the industry. Glenda who came from Guatemala had worked as a waitress in different restaurants in Reading. Both of them met while working together and started planning to open their own restaurant.

The motivation of James and Glenda to own a restaurant came from past experience as waiters in different restaurants in the area. They also wanted to bring a new view to food by offering authentic Mexican food.  “We wanted to transmit a message of warmth and make people feel they are at home when they visit and try our food,” Glenda said.

The planning for the restaurant started a few years ago and both new they needed more preparation for this business venture. They decided to enroll in the Latino Business Resource Center’s eight week Latino seminar, “Entrepreneurial Skills for Success” last spring. The participants were seeking guidance from expert who could help them obtained the knowledge they needed to continue with their dream to open their business.

One of the challenges for James and Glenda was navigating the process of becoming business owners. Through Kutztown University SBDC and Latino Business Resource Center’s eight-week seminar, they obtained the information needed to open their restaurant. The classes covered business planning, finance, marketing, zoning, business structure, and insurance. After taking the class, they met with the SBDC consultants, to make the decision for the restaurant space. The SBDC was able to help them with understanding which approach to take in terms of leasing or buying the property. At the same time, the SBDC advised them on business hours operation, menu, and zoning permits. 

In the beginning of September, they were able to open La Abuela Mexican Restaurant. The name came from James’ food experience with his grandmother (abuela in Spanish). The partners financed the venture themselves, investing an estimated $60,000 of their own savings. They hired two staff, a chef and both owners are working at the restaurant. Glenda is working full-time and James is working part-time. Many of the inside renovations were made by the owner, which saved them a lot of money. The restaurant has a modern look with Mexican décor and the food is authentic from Mexico.