Hispanic Business Key Is Quality Over Quantity


Hispanic businessman Adelo Ramirez, owner of Los Gemelos Restaurant & Tortilleria, is living the American dream.


Hispanic businessman restaurateur Adelo Ramirez has seen a lot of change in his life, including moving from Mexico to the U.S. at the age of five. But he’s learned to take advantage of the opportunities that surround him, and now, after years of hard effort, working for both others and himself, he’s become a successful business owner who refuses to roll over.

Change, its said, is inevitable.

And Adelo Ramirez, owner of Los Gemelos Restaurant & Tortilleria in Port Chester, New York, is likely to agree. Since his sister brought him to the U.S. from Mexico some 31 years ago, when he was five, he’s witnessed the area’s demographics shift from largely Italian to Hispanic to now a mix of younger Hispanics and Caucasians, the latter of whom he jokingly refers to as “gringos.”

hispanic business Adelo Ramirez

Adelo Ramirez

In fact, before starting his own restaurant in 2000, he worked in any number of Italian restaurants, as “the dishwasher, the salad guy, the grill guy, the deli guy, the clerk,” he recalls. Along the way, he learned everything he needed to open his own establishment, as well as a New Rochelle-based business that distributes freshly made tortillas.

Of course, Ramirez put a lot of work into realizing what he calls the “American dream,” working as a deli clerk from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. and then as a produce distributor from midnight to 5 a.m. Although he didn’t get a lot of sleep during that time, he earned and saved enough money to open first the tortilla side of the business and then the restaurant.

“I went into tortillas first because of the long hours, including on Sundays, involved in running a restaurant. But, well, you know how things go. I opened the restaurant, and now I love it. I love what I do. I love the hours. I love the Sundays. I love everything about it, which I really wasn’t expecting to,” Ramirez says.

Although not a school-trained chef, his Hispanic background and high standards ensured the menu fare is genuinely, authentically Mexican – even though he hasn’t been back to Mexico since he first arrived in the U.S. As he explains, a lot of the items in his restaurant were actually improved based on input from his customers, many of whom can reach him at his private phone number.

“I give them a lot of credit,” he says. “They liked me and what I was doing, but would sometimes say, ‘You should try this.’ Thank God I wasn’t stubborn,

Los Gemelos Restaurant & Tortilleria in Port Chester, New York

Los Gemelos Restaurant & Tortilleria in Port Chester, New York

because the write-ups started coming in praising the restaurant for how authentic the food is. And I’m glad I didn’t change the menu for the increasing gringo patronage I’m now getting, which is something I had considered.”

Business Doing Well and Challenges

Although business is still doing well, Ramirez has noticed some differences that have impacted him. The church parking lot across from the restaurant, for example, no longer allows non-permitted parking – and with spots at a premium, slightly fewer people are coming in. After speaking with city officials, however, he learned that a new parking structure will be going up nearby, which should help reverse that trend.

Additionally, the neighborhood isn’t as heavily influenced by Hispanics as it had once been. Ramirez attributes this to a number of factors, including recent resident departures due to so-called self-deportation. Many of his former customers are Hispanics who moved to the southern U.S. or returned to Latin America, including Mexico, Guatemala and El Salvador.

Ramirez, who’s active on social-media sites such as Facebook and Twitter, remains undaunted, however. He’s recognized and accepts these changes but won’t necessarily bend to them. He continues to serve the authentic Mexican cuisine he’s known for and has plans to increase the output of his factory, which is currently at around 400 cases a week.Tortillas

But he stresses that the numbers aren’t all about how many diners he serves every night or the amount of tortillas he ships. As he puts it, “We’re more into quality than quantity.”


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