Entrepreneur of the Month – Manny’s Tortas

Congratulations to NDC Entrepreneur of the Month Manny’s Tortas!

28 years ago, Manny González moved to Minnesota with two dreams: to learn English, and to own his own restaurant. He realized his first dream quickly. In 1998, he read about an innovative, Latino-organized, NDC-supported project coming to East Lake Street: the Cooperativa Mercado Central. They had space for five food businesses, and Manny saw a chance to realize his second dream. Manny enrolled in NDC’s 16-week entrepreneur training program. From that class he developed a business plan, and as Manny says with a contagious grin “that’s how everything started!”

Twelve years later, Manny’s Tortas is a Lake Street staple with successful locations at both the Mercado Central and the Midtown Global Market (MGM). Manny gives thanks to NDC for their continued partnership: “NDC has been really powerful help for a lot of entrepreneurs. My experience with them, it was tremendous. Because basically, they take you by the hand and say okay, this is how you’re supposed to get into the program, get loans, get permits. I knew about food, but the business aspect is totally different, and NDC helps you with that.”

This year, NDC’s partnership with Manny expanded into a new venture: a booth at the Minnesota State Fair. After two years participating in the Midtown Global Market’s State Fair booth, NDC worked with Manny to achieve a long-time goal of securing his own permanent location at the Fair, featuring his trademark tortas and a Fair specialty- non-alcoholic piña coladas, served right in the pineapple. Was the wait worth it? Manny laughs and exclaims, “It was insane! It was beautiful insane. It was work. I’ve never seen so many people! But we were ready.” The fair was a resounding success for Manny’s Tortas, and Manny gives many thanks to MGM manager (and NDC employee), Jeff Alexander: “Oh my goodness! He was like a guardian angel. He was excellent!”  Manny’s Tortas was one of eleven Midtown Global Market vendors that participated in the Fair this year in partnership with NDC  – a service that is part of NDC’s mission to incubate and create broader opportunities for small businesses.

Manny, along with his sister and business partner, Vicki, currently have 12 employees at the two restaurants they operate, and they have cultivated a strong following of torta-addicts in Minneapolis. “The sky is the limit. That’s the vision I have. We can do great things and change neighborhoods. Like with MGM- we’re changing the neighborhood. I think NDC is doing a great job (in the community), doing a lot for entrepreneurs. Sometimes people don’t really know who’s behind it all. NDC is the heartbeat that keeps the whole body moving.”



Big Daddy’s BBQ in the News

City Pages reports on NDC-supported business, Big Daddy’s BBQ.

Grand Opening of All Washed Up

Shantae Holmes (featured as NDC’s Entrepreneur of the Month in July) had the Grand Opening for her new laundromat on the North Side, All Washed Up, this past Saturday. Watch WCCO’s coverage!

Camel on a Stick

Kare 11’s Eric Perkins interviews Jamal Hashi, owner of Safari Express, on Kare in the Kitchen- featuring delicious sambusa and the new State Fair specialty from Safari Express, camel on a stick. Watch here!

Safari Express will be at the State Fair, in the International Bazaar from August 30 – September 2. Be adventurous and add Camel on a Stick to your state fair food itinerary- then let us know what you think!

The District Barber Shop

The District Barber Shop is a 450 square foot four seat – start-up barber shop at 1116 Lowry Avenue North, Minneapolis that allows families to have their hair cut in one convenient visit. There are many “quick salons” like Cost Cutters, or Fantastic Sams, however, most of these salons only provide the minimum services. These upscale barbers can be inconvenient due to scheduling requirements and cost.

Owner of The District, Terry Turner, perceived an unfulfilled customer need for a low-cost barber shop that provides maximum flexibility and strong customer attention. The District provides walk-in hair cutting services for the entire family; however a main focus will be marketed towards African American male adults between the ages of 20 to 35 and male children of ages 6 to 12. The District will also offer mobile services to various senior and assisted living facilities throughout the north, northeast, and southeast metro areas.

Mr. Turner originally came directly to NDC in August, 2009 for a small business loan. To gain eligibility status, and learn more about entrepreneurship, Mr. Turner successfully completed the NDC Emerge Entrepreneur 2009 fall training class and received a $5,000 NDC loan in March, 2010.

Mr. Turner now manages the shop in the evening and weekend hours while his Master Barber manages operations during the day hours. His customer service skills and tenacity for being well organized has been a helpful driving force. He continues to work his full-time job at DTM Distributors as a Route Driver to supplement the household income. This job position offers a flexible schedule allowing him to be at the shop several times during the week. His business venture continues to be supported by NDC with continued coaching and technical assistance. In fact, Mr. Turner sent NDC Lending Officer, Romaine Turner (no relation) the following email acknowledging his appreciation:

“I would like to take time to thank you and NDC for believing in my vision and allowing me the opportunity to equip myself with the tools necessary to achieve my goals. The help that NDC provided has allowed me to position myself as the premier barbershop in the Cleveland neighborhood as well as provide employment for residence of the community”.