MX$ 18
pledged of MX$ 793,700pledged of MX$ 793,700 goal
1
backer
Funding Canceled
Funding for this project was canceled by the project creator on Aug 26 2019

One Dollar per person will get me to my goal! (Canceled)

A food story of not letting adversity keep you down!

One Dollar per person will get me to my goal! (Canceled)

A food story of not letting adversity keep you down!

MX$ 18
pledged of MX$ 793,700pledged of MX$ 793,700 goal
1
backer
Funding Canceled
Funding for this project was canceled by the project creator on Aug 26 2019

About

My story begins with me buying a piece of land in a small town in Baja California. One day I decided to go for it and move there even though I had nothing built. I slept outdoors for the first few months. My idea was to use free building materials that were around me.

I started making adobes (mud bricks) which at the beginning did not come out too good but with practice and reading online I figured how to build them well. This process of making adobes is one of the most physically demanding tasks you could ever do and that’s why there is a saying that goes “El hace adobes mientras duerme”, in other words “he makes adobes IN HIS DREAMS!”. At the end, I made a total of  2,300 adobes. 

This is a wall made with the adobes
These are stairs I made with small rocks I picked up from a nearby stream

The next thing was to find something for foundation. So I found lots of rocks on a dry river bed under a bridge. I started making trips picking up rocks and after a few weeks I had a huge pile of rocks. It turns out it was against the law to pick them up  but I didn’t know at the time. I did get caught one day by a federal but that’s another story. 

You can see it's rustic rock work but it looked nice

Since I was very short on money, I bought used windows before I had the walls built and that way I saved lots of money. The first project was to make ONE room so that I could have a roof over my head. Lots of personal things like a sofa, dresser, etc, were getting ruined outside so it was urgent to at least finish one room.

Little by little I added another room then another, then a bathroom, before that I would do my necessities under the moonlight. I did finish the first room before winter came and had for now a roof over my head and a room full of personal things up to the ceiling.

Some time passed and I noticed there was a restaurant in the area that was always full, customers lining up outside. I thought to myself, “if they have so many customers, I’m sure I can get some too”. Little by little I started buying used kitchen equipment, plates, utensils, glasses and everything else needed to open a restaurant. The day came to open and like most restaurants it took some time to build a customer base, but I did it.

This is an outdoor area I was able to build with broken Talavera tiles and cheap clay tiles

Don't think this was done overnight, it took me 10 years to build this!

I am a self taught chef, in fact, I had never sold food before. I did not study formally in a culinary school but I knew I was on the right path when chef’s started to visit and congratulate me. Later on, restaurant owners would ask for me and ask me if I was an employee (they wanted to hire me). I was visited by Food & Travel magazine and the critic came to try my French toast but unfortunately I did not have any that day, so it was a lost opportunity. Later on a Mexican Travel Magazine wanted to interview me and it turned out my business was closed that day. Nevertheless, I received an award as “Best Casual Restaurant  2018-2019”!

So far, this sounds like a great success story, so why is the restaurant closed now?

Well, the town’s #1 restaurant I mentioned before (the one with lines outside) is owned by a powerful politician and sort of a town bully, like we’ve seen in old westerns.

When I first opened his father came to my door and said “nobody is going to come and eat here”! I didn't pay him any attention. He also spread rumors around town that my business was closed, that I abused employees, that I owed employees money and some were fired and never got paid. In reality, I was the restaurant that paid the most of all restaurants in the area and my employees had all benefits including social security, overtime and vacations (which others don't, they abuse). As you can imagine, since it’s a small town, I started having lots of problems finding new employees. I did everything imaginable to find employees but it just became harder and harder.

Another problem was during winter time. The road to my business is a dirt road and when it rained it was extremely muddy and slippery. Well, there is a toll road that runs nearby and they remove old asphalt and lay new one every year. The toll road management  has an agreement with the town that all the asphalt they remove must be given to the local businesses and town’s people. I put in my request for asphalt every year but it never came. It turns out the town bully’s family was in charge of choosing who to give the asphalt to and since I was his competitor, the asphalt never came. I saw them bring asphalt to their businesses, to many people in town, to restaurants that were barely being built, but never to me.

I decided one day I would not give up and started collecting rocks from nearby streams, carrying them in a wheel barrel and on my knees, installed  them, one by one, until I had a rocky road, not perfect but it did the job well. All this work took about two years though, it required lots of patience and perseverance. The road was over 600 feet long!

you can kinda see the road but it's been covered with dirt

Once my business was growing I decided to open longer hours into the night. The problem is that electricity is expensive and even though I added lights, the street was very dark still. I requested street lamps which are also given to town’s people every year, you just have to put in a written request. Mine never came. It turns out that the person in charge of assigning the lamps was friends with the town bully and that is why I never got ONE lamp. They did install about 12 lamps on a street that leads to the bully's other new business, of course.

One year, the town decided to create a town business association, I wasn’t invited. Someone told me there was such association and when I showed up, the bully literally asked me what was I doing there. I explained I owned a business and wanted to participate, of course, he already knew exactly who I was. They accepted my first association fee and where supposed to add my name to a wooden display for tourists that informed where restaurants were located in town. Well, my name was never included in the information displays and I was never told where the next association meetings were held.

Mind you, even after having to put up with all this BS for years, I was happy. I did something great out of nothing. I loved cooking for other people, I enjoyed meeting them and sharing stories, making friends. Most of my customers kept coming back month after month and it made me feel proud. I guess, serving is in my blood and that’s why I enjoy it so much. In fact, people still come to my door even though it’s been closed for months and they just come to visit me, to see how I’m doing, they became my friends.

Here are some of my customers enjoying a pizza

I’m sad to confess, the bully won. The last three months I was open, I was preparing food, welcoming customers, taking their orders, cooking, serving, picking up tables and washing dishes all by myself. One customer said jokingly one day, "are you valet too"? 

I tried my best. I had even tried to strengthened  myself physically by walking many miles daily and lifted weights so I could last the grueling hours. However, the day came when I just couldn’t do it anymore. Customers started losing their patience with me even though they loved my food and I don’t blame them. I turned away 55 customers ONE Saturday alone, I'll never forget. At the end of the day, I was exhausted, I would close and go to the dish washing area, and it was overwhelming. Piles and piles of dishes. I normally did some yoga to bring some zest back into my legs and started washing dishes. It would normally take me between 4 to 5 hours. After that, a shower, sleep and start all over again at 4am.

I tell other’s that I don’t feel like I failed in any way, though I did have my crying and mourning episodes.  I actually feel so accomplished even though I had to close the restaurant. I tell my friends, “I became a real man”. Everything I went through has made me stronger and more confident. Like the New York, New York song says, "I can make it anywhere".

I think it’s very different when you do something because you love doing it, not just for money. If you do things well, money will come.

I don’t want to give up on my love for cooking. So I thought, why not move to another area, where there are more people, maybe more employees to choose from? Since I had visited Lake Chapala in Jalisco and it’s a wonderful, beautiful place that has over 100 restaurants, I thought, why not move there and compete with all those places? I know I can be competitive, I know that I can make it there.

Right now, I don't have the money to move over to Chapala and get started. . So far I have sold all the kitchen equipment and most unnecessary personal things to survive but I’m running out of money and things to sell.

I was doing something online and came across crowd funding, ignorant me, didn't know it existed. It seemed like a good idea. However, I don’t want people to give me just a hand out. I would be very happy in repaying everyone that helps me by giving them a room to stay, a meal and a warm thank you. In fact, you would be getting a great deal and saving money with the rewards I’m offering. Just meeting so many people would be thrilling, a dream come true. It would be so cool to have your photos hanging on the wall. So I have included  rewards in the page but I’m not sure if they will allow me to offer that. I’m not offering a vacation, I’m offering a place to stay when and if you decide to come and visit.

Please understand that if this campaign is successful, I may not be able to fit everyone right away when I open, so please be patient.

I am including some pictures of what I have in mind, not exactly but close to what I would like to do.

Build rooms kinda like this one. Start with one and keep adding more
Something like this for the restaurant

I haven’t lost my faith. One way or another, things will work out.

Risks and challenges

I don't feel like I am taking a huge risk starting again because I started from the bottom before and did great. Of course, it will be a challenge but doable. More than 30 thousand foreigners live in Chapala so I will have an opportunity to upscale my dishes a little. The first thing will be to buy a piece of land and start digging and doing what I do. Of course, I will need a lot more money to complete the project but with this I can get started.

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Support

  1. Select this reward

    Pledge MX$ 380 or more About $20

    1 diner for two includes drink

    Be our guest in our beautiful restaurant overlooking Lake Chapala. Chapala is 30 minutes from Guadalajara, the second largest city in Mexico. You will enjoy an award winning cuisine. We will go out of way to cook the best food you've ever tried. Exchange rate is about$19 pesos to 1 US$Dollar.

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  2. Select this reward

    Pledge MX$ 1,900 or more About $98

    Be our guest for 3 nights

    Be our guest in our beautiful hut overlooking Lake Chapala. Chapala is 30 minutes from Guadalajara, the second largest city in Mexico. You will also enjoy an award winning cuisine for breakfast. So you know, most places around here start at around $65 dlls per night so we are truly rewarding you for your help. Exchange rate is about $19 Pesos for 1 US$

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  3. Select this reward

    Pledge MX$ 3,800 or more About $196

    Be our guest for 6 nights

    Be our guest in our beautiful hut overlooking Lake Chapala. Chapala is 30 minutes from Guadalajara, the second largest city in Mexico. You will also enjoy an award winning cuisine for breakfast. So you know, most places around here start at around $65 dlls per night so we are truly rewarding you for your help. Exchange rate is about $19 Pesos to 1 US$

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    Estimated delivery
    Limited 0 backers
    MX$

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Funding period

- (30 days)