Since Juan Antonio Corretjer’s 100th birthday in 2008, The Juan Antonio Corretjer Puerto Rican Cultural Center has celebrated Corretjer’s birthday every year on March 3rd with our 100X35 open house showcasing all our programs. This year was a special celebration of our 100×35 open house because we were focusing on the incredible successes of our business initiatives and the powerhouse minority entrepreneurs they work with. For years the business initiatives of The Puerto Rican Cultural Center have been supporting local small businesses to achieve their dreams. This March 3rd not only were we celebrating the work of The Puerto Rican Cultural Center, but we also got to celebrate the soft opening of one of our own business advisee’s Janellie Rodríguez’s first restaurant; Janellie’s Kitchen located at 2617 W. Division on Paseo Boricua.
Janellie Rodríguez has been receiving no cost business advice from PRCC’s Business Initiatives team for almost two years. Ever since our business department and The PRCC inaugurated WEPA Mercado del Pueblo, we got to know Janellie on a personal level when we accompanied her on a journey to achieving her dream of owning her own restaurant. Janellie was born and raised in Chicago before moving to Puerto Rico, where she met Moises, her husband and kitchen companion. Janellie has over ten years of experience in the restaurant industry, as she and Moises ran a pizza restaurant in Puerto Rico.
In 2014 Janellie, Moises, and their kids moved back to Chicago. Janellie was introduced to Executive Director José López by a family member, and from there she joined our business incubator program. Our Business Initiative team assisted Janellie with starting and formalizing her catering business. Everyone tasted her cooking skills and knew she had the potential to open a restaurant. We all knew it would be a tough road to walk, especially as a Latina woman. There are not enough resources, a lack of funding, and many other obstacles women encounter when starting a business. Our community has been hit hard by these social issues, so we knew it would take effort by everyone. The Business Initiatives team walked her through the process of licensing and health inspections.
Acquiring a license in Chicago typically takes 3-4 months, including inspection. Thanks to the City of Chicago’s expedited restaurant licensing program and our Chicago Business Center we were able to accelerate and complete the licensing process in just a few weeks. Business advisor Honorio Torres made sure the restaurant was properly insured, securing contracts with pest control, garbage, and oil disposal essential to be up to code with city regulations.
The goal was to have the grand opening ready by International Women’s Day, and needless to say, Janellie made her fellow sisters proud! I’m eating a pollo asado and arroz con gandules while I type this incredible story. Don’t forget to visit La Cocina de Janellie at 2617 W. Division St!