BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Each week, we highlight the work of someone who is making Buffalo a better place. This week’s City Shaper is a woman who took a leap of faith and started her own business last year.
"I just started by faith, I guess, because I didn't have nothing at all, and we just collected some wood, and we made a kiosko type of thing, looks like a gazebo, but it's a kiosko. That's the kioskos that we have in Puerto Rico or in Mexico," explained Maria Rodriguez.
Rodriguez grew up in Puerto Rico, and she moved to Buffalo in the mid '90s.
"I really love Buffalo. Every time I go to another state or another city, I really want to come back," she says.
Rodriguez learned how to make Puerto Rican food growing up, and she learned how to make Mexican dishes when she lived in San Diego.
"I always had this desire of doing my own restaurant and everything. So, I combined two different foods. The Mexican food and the Puerto Rican food which are the two favorite foods that I have," she says.
Rodriguez found out about the West Side Bazaar through the Westminster Economic Development Initiative. It's the group responsible for helping to connect the 16 business owners at the bazaar with the resources they need.
“It's beautiful. It's something that we really need in every city, actually, but in Buffalo, especially, it's something very, very important. Especially with all the variety of people that we have now. We have people from different countries, and it's good to have a taste of diversity like that," says Rodriguez.
Kiosko Latino serves lunch and dinner and caters events. Rodriguez has also expanded to Skip the Dishes, Uber Eats, and Grub Hub which are all helping her grow her business.
"What advice do you have for people who want to start their own business, but they might be too afraid?” asked 2 On Your Side’s Kelly Dudzik.
"Not to be afraid. Just jump. Do it like I did. I didn't have any money when I started. Nothing. So, jump in and don't be afraid and do it," says Rodriguez. "Do it. This is your opportunity now."
The West Side Bazaar is looking at moving into a much bigger space. If it does, Rodriguez wants to move with it and expand her restaurant.
If you would like to nominate a City Shaper, just send an email to Kelly that includes the nominee’s email address.