The Entrepreneurial Drive In Its Purest Form

Two Felipe's Restaurant

Felipe’s small business owners are examples of the entrepreneurial spirit.


When I went to speak with the owners of Felipe’s, a relatively new (2 years old) and rather small (roughly 40 covers) restaurant in the resort town of Palm Springs, I expected to hear a tale dedication entirely grounded in the restaurant business.

But what surprised me most was the absolute determination of two brothers-in-law to start a business, any business, before ultimately deciding to open a restaurant.

At least with these two, the desire to be their own bosses was primary.  They had decided they no longer wanted to work for others and wanted their own business.

It could have been anything – a car wash, a market, a bar, or something else that might come along.  These men felt that being their own bosses was crucial to their ultimate success.

Felipe's restaurant

Taking the Plunge

They had been holding down multiple jobs, and it was during one of these jobs, working for a sign company, that they encountered the owner of a struggling bakery with a decent location in a strip mall that was kind of out of the way and not very busy.

The rent was cheap, the space needed re-designing and a lot of effort (just the walls, floors, ceilings, kitchen, bar, patio, and everything else), but the one thing they were ready and willing to put in was a lot of work, long hours, and call in every favor they had ever been owed.   But first they had to quit their old jobs and take a big chance.

These two guys, both named Felipe, by the way, are related.  One married the other’s sister, so they are connected but not blood relatives.

This is a trait common among entrepreneurs from across the multicultural spectrum – immigrants are not afraid to start a business with a relative, even by marriage.  There’s a lot to be said for family unity, and if this very Latino (but not only Latino) trait may be the key to our ability to launch ourselves into the entrepreneurial class.

So they stumble into a perfect space in an okay location, they quit their jobs and launch themselves into this project with no net.

No deep pockets, no rich relatives to bail them out.  Nothing. They needed the restaurant to turn a profit right away – they couldn’t wait a year or two or three.  So this is something I wouldn’t recommend to anyone (even though I did this myself), but they made it work.

Secret Sauce

It certainly helped that they both had experience in the restaurant business, albeit mostly as waiters.

They had the Tapatio food tradition (from the Guadalajara area) to rely on and lots of family recipes.  So the food they serve isn’t typical restaurant fare, it’s family food and it tastes like it – I think that is their secret sauce, literally.

Zero Marketing

All they did was tell their friends and family they were opening their doors, a few people strayed in, and their success was propelled entirely by word of mouth.

Again, this is not something I would recommend to anyone, but they relied entirely on the quality of their food and service — and illogically, it worked.

They haven’t had an agency or invested in any advertising, but now they are talking with someone about handling their nascent social marketing efforts – they now have a website up and a Facebook page too, and their Yelp reviews have helped a lot.

Next page- Administrative Duties, Growth and Passion


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