From employees to Tastyzón partners

The closure of the old Los Tejaditos, for its workers, was the great opportunity to stop being employees to become the entrepreneurs of a new restaurant, and continue delighting the Bumangueses with their preparations.

Gilberto, Nieves and Olga formed a partnership in the new restaurant. Photo Marco Valencia.

“Discomfort is the path to success.” “You have to be humble and grateful in life.” “Believe in God and yourself.” These are some of the phrases that identify Gilberto Sanabria, a 41-year-old man, born in Barrancabermeja, Santander, which has allowed him to grow professionally and personally.

Gilberto’s story begins at the age of 14, when he arrived in Bucaramanga and let himself be enchanted by the Ciudad Bonita.

He remembers that he arrived because one of his older sisters brought him. One day she asked him to accompany her to her work (Los Tejaditos Restaurant). Since then, and for the next 20 years, he worked as a car caretaker.

He does not forget that he was always grateful to have that job, because it was a way to alleviate the situation of his mother and father, who lived in Barrancabermeja. They did not have a permanent job, therefore, the family economy was precarious.

“From day one I strived to do my job well. At first she wore the clothes she had worn for her first communion. As the years went by, I saved and bought several white shirts, two black pants, suspenders, a bowtie, and patent leather shoes. When I started wearing those clothes as a uniform, customers congratulated me and the tips multiplied,” remembers Gilberto.

With his own savings, Gilberto bought his first uniform as a car caretaker.

“Although I never liked studying, and I only had up to fifth grade, as the years went by and due to pressure from clients, I finished high school. I took some courses in customer service and other areas at Sena, without imagining that they were going to help me when the crisis hit the Los Tejaditos restaurant,” she says.

The eviction arrives

Everything in the life of Gilberto and the other employees of Los Tejaditos was going on normally, until in 2018, after 30 years of service, due to poor administrative management that caused a financial crisis, the restaurant was evicted.

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“It was a day in June when work stopped. Officials came to comply with a court order, and without having a clear plan, the restaurant’s approximately 10 employees managed to remove tables, chairs, and kitchen utensils and store everything in a warehouse. The intention was to look for an alternative to support their families,” remembers Gilberto.

In addition to being a partner, Gilberto is the administrator of the Restaurant. Photo Marco Valencia.
In addition to being a partner, Gilberto is the administrator of the Restaurant. Photo Marco Valencia.

Although at first the 10 former employees decided to join together in search of a solution to find a place to reopen the restaurant, economic difficulties made several of them give up, but Gilberto’s persistence was very clear and with the help of angels (such as he calls them) they began the titanic work of not letting themselves be defeated by difficulties, and working day and night so that what they once dreamed of was a reality,” he says proudly.

The client list, an opportunity

Without even having a weight in his favor, but with the conviction that he could gain, he moved forward with the project of reestablishing the restaurant. For two months, Gilberto, with his suit that characterized him as a car caretaker, remained in the corner of the race. 28 and 34th Street, where the restaurant operated. With notebook in hand, he was in charge of taking the name and telephone number of customers who arrived and were surprised by the closure of the establishment. He told them that they were looking for a location, and they would open soon. He also asked them to be his financial partners.

Gilberto still has the notebook in which he collected the names and telephone numbers of his former clients.
Gilberto still has the notebook in which he collected the names and telephone numbers of his former clients.

He remembers that many of these people laughed in his face and told him that he was crazy, but he never gave up his idea of ​​opening his own restaurant.

After so many comings and goings, they received the first loan of 50 million pesos, which they had waited for so long. After receiving the money, they proceeded to pay the first installment that they agreed upon with the business owner.

However, because the house was very deteriorated, and there was little they were able to rescue, they did the math and realized that the capital they had would not be enough.

Then, Gilberto proposed to his co-worker, Nieves Villabona, that they go talk to the lady who motivated them to start that project. The idea was that they would lend them another 40 million pesos.

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When they arrived at her house, she welcomed them with a big smile. They explained the reason for her visit and she responded: “Now I see you with a business profile. I like his attitude! Now they speak differently, with more determination and conviction… I lend them the money with one condition, that they reinstate the partner Miguel. They accepted, but not before telling him that it was he who decided to withdraw from the project.”

With more money, everyone left the roles they played in the restaurant to help paint, clean and replace all the furniture and get what was necessary to offer the menu that has always characterized Los Tejaditos.

And, almost four months after the closure, that is, in October 2018, the dream of opening the doors of his restaurant came true for him and his other partners: Nieves Villabona, chef; Miguel Solano (who died due to Covid and was replaced by his wife Luz Esperanza Jurado), and worked as a waiter, and Olga Lucía Larrotta, who is the daughter of the owner of the traditional Los Tejaditos restaurant and is an accounting assistant.

The debts

But not everything in this story is rosy, because although the opening of the restaurant was achieved with a new name, Tastyzón, the result of a play on words in honor of his former workplace and to continue with the tradition, the The business opened with liabilities of almost 500 million pesos, recalls Olga Lucía Larrotta.

It must be remembered that Olga Lucía is the daughter of the former owner, Oliva, and once the closure became effective, she was an accountant by profession, worked in another company, but because she grew up and knew how the business worked, the other employees called her and they invited her to participate in the adventure of reopening the restaurant.

Nieves, in addition to being a partner, is the chef in charge of delighting customers with her dishes.
Nieves, in addition to being a partner, is the chef in charge of delighting customers with her dishes.

“When the closure happened, they came to me to be part of this new group, precisely because we are a family, even if there are no blood ties. We consider ourselves as such, and we did not want to lose tradition either,” recalls Olga Lucía.

He added that in a titanic way everyone is working to find resources. He warns that in this process there were fractures in personal relationships. At first there were 10 who started the project, then it became six, and currently four people are still united.

“We work from Tuesday to Sunday in order to continue growing, and over time we have been able to pay some debts, but currently there are still things pending.”

Remember that another difficult time for the restaurant was the arrival of Covid, due to the closure that all commercial establishments had to do, but as always, they did not stop fighting and together they worked to offer an alternative menu that would accommodate the pocket of customers and ventured with homes, since the restaurant operated only with table service.

Additionally, the site now also offers the celebration of degrees, birthdays and family or business gatherings in order to continue growing as a company.

Likewise, Gilberto says that they are also venturing into the catering service (institutional food service or collective food service), in order to provide service for large events, taking into account that the restaurant has a capacity for 120 people. .

He reiterates that the short and medium term projects are to continue growing and every day delight the palates of all Bumangueses, and the people who, on the recommendation of others, come to enjoy dishes such as the traditional Tejaditos or Cazuela, which are the ones they like the most. customers ask.

The jobs

Good customer service has allowed it to continue generating employment. Photo Marco Valencia.
Good customer service has allowed it to continue generating employment. Photo Marco Valencia.

Regarding job creation, Olga Lucía specifies that currently they have 12 people on the payroll, but additionally the group in total with the extras is approximately 25 people, since when the high season arrives, more staff is required, as well as when The restaurant is reserved for holding events.

Strategy for resurgence

After the pandemic, due to very low sales, the owners of Tastyzón started the campaign called “Solidarity Dinner”, a strategy aimed at reactivating sales and continuing to raise the money necessary to meet financial obligations and move forward.

Gilberto says that this strategy has been a great help and in this way the growth of the restaurant is seen every day.

Be an inspiration to other people

In recent months, Gilberto Sanabria has told his story over and over again, and as he says, beyond boosting sales in his restaurant, what he wants is to be an inspiration for other people, and tell them that dreams come true, but for this it is It is necessary to be strong, disciplined and above all believe in yourself.

Consider that all this time, that is, since 2018 when he began the adventure of going from being an employee to forging his own business, I have also learned that God put a new purpose in his life, which is to be a leader and example for other people.

Currently Gilberto is preparing to start his other dream, which is to give lectures and in addition to telling his story, teach others how to work to not only be a great businessman, but also be a good person, because in life money is not what more important but to have values, be grateful and be humble.

He remembers that he recently participated in a talk at the Autonomous University of Bucaramanga, Unab, with entrepreneurs and considers that this is the first step to continue down this path.

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