On Wednesday, February 9th, 2022, Impacto joined Hector Serrano and his family at their new restaurant, Boricua #2, at 3843 Aramingo Ave in Philadelphia. A group of family, friends and supporters was there to celebrate the grand opening of the location, which opened to the broader public on Friday the 11th with a ribbon cutting event. The original Boricua restaurant is located at 1149 N 3rd St, at the north end of the Northern Liberties neighborhood. Both the original location and second site are glad to be open to the public with dine-in, carry-out, and catering services available.
Boricua and Boricua #2 serve typical Puerto Rican cuisine in spaces decorated with tropical themes, and they also sell products focused on Puerto Rican culture such as apparel, home décor, games, and more. Hector stepped away from the grand opening celebration for a few moments to speak with Impacto about the growth of his family’s business:
How did you begin this business – what was the original vision?
I actually started with a ballroom in north Philadelphia. I had a handshake agreement with the owner to rent it and host events. I totally overhauled the space, fixed it up. As I got more clients, I also started getting into different areas of hosting events – food, decorations, flowers, etc. But the owner raised the rent several times, to an unreasonable level. Around that time, a friend of mine told me about an even bigger space that was available – and I went from 600 square feet to 6,000 square feet. People who came to the events said our food was great, and we should consider opening a restaurant. Near the neighborhood where I live, another friend told me about a restaurant whose tenant was just leaving, and I jumped on the opportunity. Every step of the way, God just put the right people in my path at the right times.
I opened the original Boricua location right before the pandemic, and we immediately had to shut down again. We didn’t know how we would survive, but my family has faith in God, and we prayed about how to move forward. Within the first two weeks after the shutdown, I got a phone call that I thought was a joke. A client said, “We want to order 10,000 platters.” This was someone who had decided to help people in need during the pandemic. They called us back two days later and said, “We need 20,000 platters.” It was amazing – we just cried; we were so grateful. We were able to get out of debt and start to build the business. That client opened doors to Amazon, and FedEx – now, we have an offer to open 40 franchise locations across the country. We will be working with an attorney to plan our growth, but in the meantime, our third location will be opening in 4 months. It will be located near the intersection of 5th Street and Rising Sun Avenue, and it will be on the next level – it will seat 450-500 diners, but will also have community gathering spaces, conference rooms, and more.
You are very focused on the Puerto Rican community through your restaurants – not just food, but music, art, and culture. What’s your message to the Puerto Rican community, and your hope for the future?
I want to say to the Puerto Rican community, that we can build these types of businesses and be successful. Sometimes friends or colleagues look at my success and say that I’m so lucky – but this wasn’t luck, it was very hard work. We have to be entrepreneurial, persistent, and willing to work very hard. I am inspired by immigrant communities in Philadelphia, who have incredible entrepreneurial vision, and work so hard to achieve their goals. I want to serve as a role model for Puerto Rican people who want to dream big, and then take the steps to make those dreams a reality. We invite all of Impacto’s readers to visit one of our locations!