Los Amigos - Small Business Success Stories
Small Business Center Helps Local Restaurant Establish Business Plan
In March 2006, two long-time, tried and true friends opened a new restaurant in Waynesville most appropriately called Los Amigos (The Friends.) Located in the Mountain Creek Plaza, Los Amigos is the brainchild of George Rios and Adrian Ferdnandez.
Friends for over 18 years, the two men met in their hometown in Mexico. “We lived in the same building. I was on the first floor and he was on the second,” said Ferdnandez. During that time they forged a friendship that would lead Ferdnandez to follow Rios to the United States and finally to Waynesville. Rios has lived in Haywood County for 13 years and Ferdnandez for the past 9 years. Both came to the area in search of work and each in turn found employment in different local restaurants.
With over 24 years of restaurant work experience between the two of them, opening a restaurant of their own was a natural career step. However, as first-time business owners, they weren’t quite sure how to get started. They sought advice from Mike McKinney, Vice President of United Community Bank. He told them to contact Sharron Donnahoe, Haywood Community College’s Small Business Center Director to get help in developing a business plan.
The Small Business Center provides budding entrepreneurs with the knowledge and resources needed to make informed decisions concerning their business ventures. A resource library of print, audio, and video materials is also available for loan. The Center is located at the Regional High Technology Center and counseling services are available by appointment and are free of charge.
“Having known Adrian and George for a long period of time, I knew they would use all their efforts to get the small business help they needed and get into business smart. With that said, then it was our turn to do all we could do to get the resources and get them opened,” McKinney said.
Over a three-month period Donnahoe worked closely—one on one— with the two business partners as they developed a business plan. “She helped us stay focused on what we wanted to accomplish. We met with Sharron several times as we revised our plan,” said Ferdnandez. Originally the partners had another location in mind that didn’t work out—that resulted in another revision of their business plan. “Finally, with Sharron’s help we had a business plan that would work for us,” they said.
“Working with George and Adrian was a pleasure. On the initial meeting they presented their business idea and we discussed several things they needed to research. Much to my surprise, the next time they returned they had followed up on all those suggestions. This pattern continued, and after several extended visits, they were ready to return to the bank with a sound business plan and a realistic cash flow projection,” said Donnahoe. “Today, they are reaching goals developed in their business plan.”
According to Rios, the two of them are the perfect partners with qualities that complement each other. Fernandez has good customer service skills and Rios has the better management skills. Together they are an effective team.
Los Amigos is a growing business. The fresh Mexican food and friendly service make it stand out. “We are not a fast-food restaurant. We use fresh ingredients and everything is made the day it is served. I eat here too,” said Ferdnandez. He is especially proud of the fact that he uses less fat grease and oil in his dishes. Trained in a culinary school, Ferdnandez says that he also adds his signature touch to most entrees through specially combined seasonings he mixes up from scratch.
A diner at the restaurant has a wide range of dishes from which to choose. From avocado soup to a dessert called the Banana Tower, from six different fajita choices to fresh fish dishes, the list goes on. The restaurant even serves a Margarita made with Agave wine which is made from cactus.
Los Amigos currently employees seven additional people in the restaurant. Together with the owners they create a warm and inviting family-friendly atmosphere. Fernandez has his own way of judging their success. “If people’s plates are empty when they leave, I feel like we’ve done a good job.”
Los Amigos is located at 366 Russ Avenue, Mountain Creek Plaza (near the BiLo store) and is open 7 days a week from 11 a.m until 10 p.m. A customer may phone ahead for take-out orders at (828) 456-7870.
For more information about the services offered at HCC’s Small Business Center, call (828) 627-4512 or visit sbc.haywood.edu on the Internet.<!--<p><img src="/UserFiles/image/sbc/los_amigos.jpg" alt="George Rios and Adrian Ferdnandez" />Long-time friends, George Rios (left) and Adrian Ferdnandez greet their customers with a smile as they fill their tables with good food.</p>-->