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.”