Teresa Montaño came to The Women’s Business Center seeking information on how to create her dream. After working in the food industry for many years—including positions at Border Grill in Santa Monica, The Tender Greens, Ciudad, Taco Truck, and Racion—she wanted a restaurant of her own. This is how Otoño, a tapas and paella restaurant, was born.
But, in order to make her dream a reality, she needed money. Opening a restaurant is not only a huge challenge but a financial stretch. There are few resources in the food industry due to high risk. After meeting with program director Ruth Garcia-Corrales to run the numbers and to seek guidance, she realized that getting a loan was only one of her options. Because her restaurant was not yet operating, she would not be able to qualify for a large loan. Together, Ruth and Teresa created a strategy to raise money through investors and to apply for a smaller loan at the same time. The WBC provided the connection to CDC and, as a result, Teresa obtained a $150,000 loan. Along with her partner Vincent, they were also able to raise $750,000 from investors.
Teresa’s path to opening her restaurant is an interesting one. Teresa came to Los Angeles from New Mexico to play soccer at Pepperdine University. But, she missed her large family and their gatherings, especially her grandmother’s specialty—green chile with pork and beans and tortillas. After working a part-time job at an organic farm in Malibu, Teresa started focusing on her career in the food industry. She remembers working at Racion and having no clients at all. One day, food critic Jonathan Gold came to visit them. When the LA Times article was published the next day, lines of people poured into their location in Pasadena and Racion was named among the top 101 restaurants in Los Angeles. Teresa knew she could have this same success at her own restaurant.
Today, Teresa says, “The WBC gave me the confidence to build my company on my own and to get a loan to finish the renovations for Otoño. Being a small business is not easy, and opening a business when you are a woman is hard. But, now I believe that everyone in the small business world should keep working hard and figure out their own path to success.”
Please visit www.otonorestaurant.com for more information on Teresa and her restaurant.