September 2, 2003
Below is a brief history of MR. EMPANADA that we would like to share with you, please take a moment, kick back, and become part of our journey.
Years ago after years of working in his dad’s restaurant waking up in the wee hours to prepare Cuban coffee and toast for factory workers across the street a young man named Albert (“Big Al”) left Perez Restaurant to seek his own career path. Hating the hours and hard work he decided to take a different road and went into the airline industry.
Oh but it was too late for Big Al…. because the restaurant business was already in his blood. In the early 80’s Big Al, loving his job with Delta Airlines, still took pride in preparing his favorite food items and hearing the rave reviews from the lucky ones that got a taste. Soon the family kitchen became a place for tasting and preparing empanadas where the whole family judged, critiqued, cooked, crimped, ate and shared Big Al’s empanadas.
Big Al soon began selling empanadas to a friend and co-worker who had her own bar business. Supplying empanadas for Betty’s 3 bars became a big job and the demand was tremendous for the empanadas. By now Big Al had a dream to open an empanada shop and not rest on the thought until he convinced everyone this was the thing to do. Talking with brother-in-law Bob who created the logo and name. Big Al set out to fulfill his dream.
The Perez’s, all 5, worked hard. Lisa, Trisha, and A.J. after school, and during the summer. By now Audrey left the IRS to work full time at Mr. Empanada and the five of us set out on our journey. Soon Mr. Empanada had grown to 3 of our own locations, 1 franchised location, 3 convenience store franchises and the USDA manufacturing plant in Ybor City. Big Al worked 40 hours at Delta and 30+ hours at Mr. Empanada. Audrey worked long hours while Lisa, Trisha and A.J., all going to college, helped in between. We are a happy family facing different challenges and building strong characters learning how to be entrepreneurs.
Then we were faced with a dilemma. Audrey landed a contract with Caserita Foods the Hispanic division of Campbell Soup Company. Caserita wanted Mr. Empanada to manufacture empanadas for them to distribute all over the US. The dilemma came when, by now, 3 investment partners plus Al and Audrey had to seek out the capital to make this a reality. Soon thereafter the growth of Mr. Empanada, the failure of Harbor Island and the success of the product became the demise of what the Perez family had worked for. The partners could not agree on the manner in which to continue and Mr. Empanada was sold to a third party.
But oh………….the journey continues. Big Al still has his dream and the Perez’s are still working on their success story of Mr. Empanada.
Now 20+ years later and after the unfortunate circumstances of 9/11 Big Al’s 29-year career with Delta was over with a great retirement. So……….. what better thing to do than to continue to follow your dream. Big Al will now devote his full time to Mr. Empanada. Audrey will continue her career with the government and help as needed unless (oh no) it’s in her blood! Only time will tell. Lisa, Trisha and A.J., now raising their own families’, will be there for dad whenever he calls in a panic that the orders are more than he can handle. And… Grandkids watch out.
The Perez Family welcomes you back, and thanks you for taking our journey with us. We appreciate your business and we count our blessings for the opportunity to have a second chance. We have a special place in our hearts for our family, the many original employees, friends and customers who have supported us and continue to do so.
So for today…. we will all be part of the reality of Big Al’s dream