04.30.2020|Community

Supporting small business: It’s not just about profit

By: Jason Small

This authentic Honduran restaurant has a powerful message for other small businesses facing COVID-19.

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If you’ve never been to Honduras, Rafael Larios would love to see you in his restaurant.

One of his favorite things about the family’s business of more than 20 years is watching reactions from customers tasting samples for the first time. “I give them food samples and, as they try a few options, it gets harder for the customer to choose because each sample gets better and better. I love seeing them taste it for the first time,” says Larios who co-owns this family business with two locations in Southern California.

But keeping their business afloat right now requires a blend of resourcefulness and adaptation—and for them, still prioritizing ways to give back to the community. Right now, that means serving free meals at certain times to those in need--even when things are this tough for the business.

Food culture

Honduras Kitchen doesn’t just want to serve you Honduran food. They want to educate you and give you an experience that includes the music and culture of Honduras.

“I want our customers to feel like they’re taking a mini-vacation in the Caribbean,” Larios says.

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In their Long Beach and Huntington Park locations, they only serve authentic Honduran cuisine. Other restaurants often bring in secondary cuisines. His parents started the business in 1992, and he still remembers being 10 years old and cutting tomatoes and onions at the restaurant.

Now, both locations are staples of the local community.

Adapting to a new normal

When COVID-19 hit, Larios and his brother told their elderly parents to stay at home to protect them. The brothers now run both locations without supervision, and their parents get a little taste of a hard-earned retirement.

The safety of their employees and customers are a top priority. To adapt, the brothers had to quickly optimize the menu for take-out and delivery. But another key priority is their relentless commitment to community.

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In 1998, Hurricane Mitch hit Honduras and the restaurant found ways to collect support and send it back.

Now staples in their new community, they give back even in the midst of the toughest challenge ever to their business.

Monday through Friday, from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. anyone can come in--no questions asked--for free carryout food. It’s one way they help those in need. But they are also giving delivery drivers and any delivery personnel that bring shipments to their restaurants some food for free–as a ‘thank you’ for doing what they do.

A powerful message

Larios recognizes why they must adapt to survive. But he also recognizes that their survival isn’t just for the sake of profit.

His perspective is much wiser and borne from the foundation his family business has instilled in him. “Look for all of the resources that might help you get by. Because you’re not just taking care of yourself – you are taking care of your community, your employees and your family.”

Larios sought resources and found them. He is a grantee of the Verizon Small Business Recovery Fund through the Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC). Verizon has committed to donating up to $7.5M to LISC, which has established and administers the Verizon Business Recovery Fund with those donations.

“Receiving a grant from the Verizon Small Business Recovery Grant is exactly what it sounds like. It’s an opportunity for us to continue to stay open. It’s an opportunity for us to continue to pay our employees and continue to pay our vendors. It’s an opportunity for us to continue to succeed and to keep moving forward instead of backwards.”

Join Verizon’s #PayItForwardLIVE initiative benefiting local communities by sharing ways to support small businesses.

About the author(s):

Jason Small focuses on storytelling for the Verizon communications team. His background includes online and offline roles in digital marketing and communications within corporate, agency and startup environments across more than 20 brands.

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