When visitors enter the Imbabura Province in San Pueblo, Ecuador, they’re greeted by a cute restaurant whose name Puerta al Imbabura—means “gateway into Imbabura.” This family-owned business is run by 51-year-old Fabiola Quilumbaqui out of her own childhood home.
Fabiola’s mother, a well-known fritada street vendor in her day, began a family tradition in the foodservice industry. Fabiola didn’t always have big dreams of restaurant ownership, but, along with so much in the community, that changed with the opening of the Inta-Kara Advancing Life Center.
A family dream, a family business
“We learned that there was an opportunity to be certified in the culinary arts,” says Fabiola. “The course helped us update and innovate our business, and it’s made a big difference in our revenue. We’ve been able to improve our lives and pass down the skills to our kids and grandkids.”
After taking a three-month course, Fabiola knew that in order to carry on her mother’s culinary legacy she needed to expand her restaurant to employ more people in the community, including members of her own family. Fabiola’s son is learning as much as he can and plans on taking culinary courses once he graduates high school.
“Chef Marcelo Valencia taught us how to make appetizers, entrees, salads, desserts,” says Fabiola.”Most importantly, I learned the proper processes to run a restaurant business. I expanded our menu from solely traditional dishes to include American-style food that younger people ask for, like BBQ wings and hamburgers.”
Learning & growing for bigger business
Most of the clientele includes visitors, travelers, and locals. The San Pablo Lake area caters to a wealthier clientele and because of this Fabiola’s restaurant has weathered the pandemic and kept on going.
“I want to thank the donors for providing the vocational school to this area,” says Fabiola. “Sometimes we are stuck in our ways and we need the opportunity to share and learn from others’ experiences. I plan on taking more courses and continuing to expand our business.”