Angel and Araceli Nacipucha, Los BarrilesKatie Smith
For Angel and Araceli Nacipucha, restaurants are a family business. The husband and wife co-owners of Los Barriles Restaurant and Sports Bar met while Angel was running a restaurant and Araceli was working in the kitchen. “We had this dream six or seven years ago. We were working very hard and looking for a place,” Angel says.
The couple ended up buying a mixed-use building with an apartment upstairs and space for a restaurant downstairs. While they had two young children, Araceli went to culinary school at St. Augustine College, and the couple saved money to open the restaurant. “[Araceli] used to take the babies to school. Those were very hard times, but we had dreams and nothing stopped us,” Angel remembers.
While applying for a zoning permit for Los Barriles, the Nacipuchas met Marisabel Pozo, Economic Development Specialist at Albany Park Chamber of Commerce/North River Commission, and her colleagues at the organization. They referred Angel and Araceli to banks and accountants, and Marisabel sent them information about small business webinars. “They have been to every webinar we’ve had about accounting and finances,” Marisabel shared. She was impressed that the couple even attended Albany Park’s Northwest Brewfest to sample beer to serve at their bar. “They are really out there doing their best to succeed.”
The Nacipuchas also worked with Women’s Business Development Center (WBDC). Araceli has taken classes on social media, human resources, and accounting at the WBDC, who also offers classes in Spanish. The Nacipuchas are also part of the Illinois Hispanic Chamber of Commerce who helped spread the word about the opening of the restaurant on social media.
The Nacipuchas serve Yucatan food, a Mexican cuisine from the Yucatan Peninsula and also Mediterranean food. Mayan cuisine has a lot influence on Spanish, Lebanese, Dutch, and Caribbean cuisines. Yucatan cuisine keeps their traditional ingredients. Angel and Araceli want customers to experience their Yucatan dishes like “cochinita pibil” an iconic and flavorful dish, which is tender pork marinated with achiote (annatto seeds) and Mayan spices, their famous Mayan dip which is made with roasted tomatoes and pepita seeds, and many more Mayan dishes.
Los Barriles is the only sports bar in the Albany Park area. When asked what’s next for the restaurant, the Nacipuchas envision Los Barriles being top restaurant and bar where people go to view international sporting events like soccer matches as well watch local sports. Los Barriles is also starting to offer karaoke and a DJ on the weekend and hopes to expand their hours to seven days a week.
Angel and Araceli agree that the best thing about their business is the freedom it affords them to be together as a family. Araceli shares that being with her family and two kids “makes it worth it,” she shares. “Our kids, even when we’re really tired, they say ‘We’ll wash the dishes!’ I hope we inspire them to be successful in the future.”
We asked Angel, Araceli, and Marisabel to walk us through the steps they took to develop the business idea for Los Barriles. Visit our Develop Your Idea page to complete your own business checklist and follow along with the video.
Develop Your Idea – Los Barriles
- Identify the Problem
What is the problem you are trying to solve?
Araceli: Offering a unique cuisine and a restaurant/bar to watch sports. “We went to Yucatan and fell in love with the food.”
What is my product?
Araceli: “A different cuisine. Not a new cuisine, but different. Yucatan food has lot of influence from Mediterranean. Our [restaurant] concept is Yucatan and Mediterranean. When we go to Mexico, we’ve got to go to Yucatan. We fell in love with the food. The next time we went to Mexico, we went to Yucatan again.”
How will I price it?
Araceli: “In [culinary school at] St. Augustine we learned about pricing. The total costs are only 30 percent of the plate.”
Marisabel: This means that the cost of the meal is marked up a little more than three times to cover the other costs of running a restaurant and to make a profit.
2. Define Your Ideal Customer
Angel: “Our ideal customers are millennials and people in their twenties who like to have fun, sing songs, watch sports, and hang out with friends.
Araceli: “Many millennials don’t use cars. They use Uber and public transportation. There is easy street parking on Lawrence, three blocks from end of Brown line at Kimball and Lawrence. They can get to Los Barriles by taking the Kimball bus or the Lawrence bus. Our restaurant is very close to North Park and North Eastern Universities. As long as they are 21!”
3. Prepare to Sell Your Product
How will I market my new idea?
Marisabel: “They started on social media before they opened their restaurant. Also, when they opened, their first day was Flavors of Albany Park and got the attention of 200 people that walked by.” The Nacipuchas and Los Barriles were also featured in the St. Augustine College newsletter, where Araceli attended culinary school. The restaurant opening was reshared through the Albany Park Chamber of Commerce. In the future, the Nacipuchas want to learn more about using Instagram and being part of more Facebook groups.
How will I make my first sale?
Araceli: “It was before we opened the restaurant. We were sent an invitation to participate in catering at the Mexican Museum. We had a big line. The food was really good. We are very happy and very grateful. Albany Park Chamber of Commerce is helping us a lot. Our food has not the original but a true taste of Yucatan!”