Dominican Delights on Wilmington’s West Side
When husband and wife Andy and Orfania Mesa moved to Wilmington, Delaware, they sorely missed the authentic Dominican food they enjoyed in New York. After getting their start selling homemade confections to friends and family, the Mesas opened Tropicalia Restaurant on Wilmington’s West Side in 2014. Mr. and Mrs. Mesa, both born in the Dominican Republic, work full-time in the restaurant. Andy works as the chef, and Orfania works as the server.
The couple rented their current location for a year, making significant leasehold improvements and in mid 2015 the property was put on the market for sale. The Messas developed a good relationship with their banker, Pedro Viera of PNC Bank, who knew of the HBDP. Pedro referred Andy and Orfania to First State CLF, with hopes the couple would qualify for a loan to purchase the property.
Navigating through the process of receiving a small business loan is difficult for someone who has not done it before and that difficulty is only compounded when you don’t speak the language. Lola Campos, Program Director for the HBDP worked closely with the Mesas family, guiding them through the business planning and application process. “With the complexities of running a restaurant, it was important that the Mesas not only receive the financing they needed to purchase the facility, but also the education and mentoring to sustain and grow the business”, said Lola.
The West 4th Street property includes the restaurant, a second ground floor retail space and two apartments above. The family occupies one of the apartments and is renovating the second to lease.
The official launch of the HBDP to the general public took place in October 2015 at Delaware’s Second Annual Latino Summit. There were over 400 people in attendance. “We are really excited to add the HBDP to the cadre of business development services we provide at First State Community Loan Fund”, said Vandell Hampton, Jr., President and CEO. “This new program opens a door to support businesses that we did not have the capacity to help before”.