Columbia-Harlem Small Business Development Center: Massawa Restaurant


I always wanted to do business and
I went to school for economics. And pretty much I knew coming out of
college that my main job is to help my family out and use my skills I
learned in college to help them. This pictures all about the lighting,
so it’s one to four here. We probably get 40 pieces of light. So my parents left crisis
in Eritrea in the 70s, 80s. My mother went to Italy. She learned how to cook over there for
a couple of years, spoke the language, and she wanted a better opportunity,
so she came to the US. She drove a cab in the 80s and it was
a hard time in New York City especially. And so, she would drive by Amsterdam over
and over again, and she saw an open space. She wanted the use her skills as a cook
to open up a restaurant and she did it. She and her husband, my father,
opened up the restaurant in 1988. She didn’t speak the language,
she didn’t have much money. She was a woman and
that in itself was really difficult. This is our 30th anniversary and it’s a coincidence that we’re
doing the expansion now. But we’re gonna double the size of
the restaurant, have a full-sized bar, offer breakfast, coffee, Ethiopian coffee. So it’s really exciting. You can just look at this and
feel it, you know what I mean? And everybody who walks in,
feels the energy and they’re all excited with us too. Right now, we just finished demolition. So the place is a little messy. But we’re gonna build out the windows
in the next couple days on the corner at 121st. Building out a full bar here. We’re gonna keep the ceilings,
keep it high, keep it exposed.>>It given me peace of mind, what I work
30 years, and now is result what I see.>>My parents are sitting back now,
cuz they know that me and my brother have a better eye of what’s
going on right now in the market. But they’re just excited,
they’re listening to us, they’re giving us the green light for
everything.>>I feel like I accomplished something, and really,
I don’t know how to explain my happiness.>>I get up 7:00, go to my school. I’m a TA in the South Bronx for
kids of autism, fourth grade and pretty much I help them do classwork. Make sure they’re safe,
they are underserved in many, many ways. So nobody’s looking at them,
nobody’s helping them. So and a lot of these people could be
my brother, my sister, my friends. After work, I got to the restaurant,
help my mom and dad out with any like paperwork and just opportunities for
growth, catering in that sense. That’s pretty much a week. [MUSIC] How are you doing?
How’s everything, you’re good?>>Good seeing you, man. [MUSIC]>>How are you?>>Good to see you.>>I’m good, I’m good, good to see you.>>Me too.
>>You’re in business.>>Mm-hm.
>>You’re in business, so you value proposition. Okay, so this for you.>>Thank you so much, thank you.>>Okay?>>To join a program you have
to have a business in Harlem. And the program is paid for,
mostly by Claremont University and some through the state,
but for us it’s free. And because of that it allows people
to who don’t have the resources, who don’t have the money to be a part
of something that’s really big and important and
they give you everything else. They give you the advisors, they give
you support system which is amazing, they brought in specific based
guest to talk about food, about branding, about Amazon,
about a whole bunch of different things. We’re about to push the product
out in maybe two to three months. Without them, it would have taken
us another two to three years. Our most popular dish, Shiro,
it’s by far the best-seller, babies eat it, everybody eats it,
it’s pureed ginger, onion, tomatoes, and. So it’s our biggest seller and
we know people want this product, so we wanna push it out and
give them what they want. It gave us the platform and the confidence
to go forward in anything we wanted to do and you meet amazing people too. Everybody there is an entrepreneur. They have the same exact mindset
you have and that’s hard to find. Cuz your friends don’t have the mindset. Some of your family members
don’t have the mindset. So being around like minded
people like that pushes you. We wanna can see legacy for
another 30 years, hopefully more. And hopefully my kids can someday work
in Massawa and help us grow a bit more. [MUSIC]

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