Karina Perez believes that many Latino and Hispanic people gravitate toward opening restaurants because the food they make ties in so closely with the heritage they hold so close to their hearts.

“I think a lot of the culture is resembled through their food, it’s something that they are excited about, it’s familiar to them and they are passionate about it,” said Perez, executive director of Centro Hispano in Columbus, 3020 18th St Suite No. 7. “It’s a piece of their home that they want to share with everyone. A lot of times they did it back in their home country.

“It’s carrying those pieces over and sharing it with everyone in their community; carrying over those traditions which is beautiful to see.”

On Monday, those interested in putting their foot in the door in the food industry are encouraged to attend the free “Table of Experts: Food Business Panel Discussion” being held from 5:30-6:30 p.m. at Centro. The event is being presented in both English and Spanish and is sponsored by the Center for Rural affairs.

Topics on the agenda include start-up planning, food business regulations, licensing and inspection, funding and other tax information, according to Vicky Espinoza, project assistant for the Lyons-based organization which works to bolster rural Nebraska communities and promote economic growth and vitality.

The goal, Espinoza said, is to have 15-20 people show up to learn more about taking a dream and actually making it a reality.

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“It’s more geared toward the Latino community,” Espinoza said, adding, though, that anybody with interest is welcome to attend. “Sometimes for them it can be hard to access the resources in a language that they can understand. Sometimes they might be coming from a different country and they don’t really understand the process of going through the licensing and everything that goes with starting a business here.”

Speakers will discuss financing food businesses in addition to the aforementioned talking points. In addition, a local business owner representing El Tapatio Mexican Restaurant will speak, as will Platte County Food Inspector Jennifer Loeffler, Espinoza said.

She encourages anyone with even an iota of interest to show up, at least for a bit. Worse case they don’t take away anything, but best case this opportunity might just be what aspiring restaurant owners need to hit the ground running with a successful business idea.

To register for the event, anyone with interest is encouraged to contact Espinoza at 402-687-2100, ext. 1038, or email her at vickye@cfra.org.

Sam Pimper is the news editor of The Columbus Telegram. Reach him via email at sam.pimper@lee.net.

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News Editor

Sam Pimper is the news editor of The Columbus Telegram, Schuyler Sun and The Banner-Press newspapers. He graduated with a bachelor's degree in journalism from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in 2015.

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