Operations Success Stories

For Kendall’s coffee lovers, this couple brews up a success story

Step inside Macondo Coffee Roasters in Kendall and you’ll immediately feel welcome. The small restaurant is rustic, industrial and artsy all at the same time, with a number of tables, all different, beckoning you to relax and take a look at the colorful illustrated wall-size menu featuring paninis, pizza, bowls, salads, smoothies and more. There are books to read and pictures scattered around, including numerous references to renowned Colombian author Gabriel García Márquez, whose best-selling 100 Years of Solitude took place in the fictional village of Macondo.

Now sit back and smell the coffee. Yes, this coffee shop and eatery located at 13021 SW 88th St. roasts all its beans in-house from small farms in Colombia. Ahh… But for these two seasoned business owners, opening their first restaurant was not without challenges.

When Carolina Omedas and her husband Emigdio Suarez were thinking about a new business to start, Carolina found herself at the original location of Macondo in Doral for an event and expressed to her husband that they should try to buy a franchise. “I approached the franchise owner and expressed my interest in buying a franchise and developing it in Kendall. After an evaluation process, we were signing the agreement in June,” says Carolina.

But even then, the challenges were just beginning because Kendall would be the first franchise location for Macondo Coffee. One of the key benefits of buying a franchise is you are buying into a brand, and a franchise typically comes with common rules and procedures, menu templates, marketing materials, and other support from the franchisor. But this owner was not planning to franchise so soon and was not prepared.

“We helped the owner very much with all the procedures, with all the policies, the relationship with the vendors, their relationship with the government agencies, with everything. Basically, after we were open for around four months, he was able to sell other franchises to other owners,” says Emigdio.

As if being the first franchisee wasn’t enough, this couple also began developing the new store in the midst of the pandemic and ran into construction difficulties. Fortunately, when they did open their doors in 2021, “our neighbors around the community responded immediately in a positive way so that made it possible for us, with really hard work, to get through those moments,” says Emigdio, who had run other businesses with his wife, but never a restaurant.

“Our customers have responded positively to the brand, the specialty coffee we offer, the menu, and the service we provide, which has been gratifying,” adds Carolina. “Along the way, we have gained a wealth of knowledge, from technical aspects to management skills. We have had to constantly learn, read, take courses, and seek advice to get to where we are today.”

Fortunately, for advice they contacted Florida SBDC at FIU, the small business development center within Florida International University’s College of Business that offers no-cost business consulting to small businesses in Miami-Dade and Monroe counties.

Early in the process, SBDC at FIU set them up with several business consultants including George Ray, a specialist in franchising. One of the first things George did was connect them with a good attorney to review and advise on the franchise contracts. Emigdio said one of the best pieces of advice they received from George was to insist on a larger territory where no other Macondo location could operate because they were taking a huge risk as the first franchisee. Now, especially with more and more businesses moving to the area since the pandemic and real estate prices and rents rising, they are especially glad they did.

Then the couple got connected with SBDC’s consultant Ricardo Newark, a specialist in business growth and finance.

“All the time he is asking us for numbers,” Emigdio recalls. “We prepared reports for him and then he analyzed those numbers and [advised us on] how we should move forward and what we could expect based on the numbers.”

Just the fact that he was always asking for those numbers and the insights those numbers were revealing compelled the couple to set up better processes and find technology to help better track their business analytics.

Carolina adds: “We use artificial intelligence tools to have good sales projections and also to have a real-time view of what’s going on, how we’re selling, what we’re selling, where we’re expecting to sell three months from now, how we’re going to close the year. … We also know our inventory in real time, how the prices are changing, and how is that affecting one or two or three items.”

Now, 2 1/2 years after starting the business, they are still in love with it. Carolina said she feels like she’s the host – and her customers are like people she invited to her party.  Emigdio adds, “Every day someone says thank you for opening a place like this in a suburb like Kendall.”

They also love the business part of the business, analyzing the numbers and building a great team, and they know can always consult with SBDC at FIU as needed. They have 15 employees, including themselves, all immigrants. In the first year of operations, 2022, they had hoped they would generate about $900,000 in sales but they pulled in $1.3 million. This year will be quite a bit better, Emigdio says.

“We’re ready to grow with a solid base. The results are really good, but we want to be even better,” Emigdio says. That might even include expanding their coffee shop.

“We have the ambition to expand to new locations and bring the specialty coffee experience to more people. We are also exploring opportunities to diversify our business and offer more services related to coffee culture,” Carolina says.

What is her advice to other entrepreneurs? “Find your passion and pursue it with determination. Doing what you are passionate about is crucial for staying motivated over time. However, it’s also important to remember that routine can sometimes divert your attention from your passion. In those moments, it’s essential to take a break and reconnect with what you are passionate about to recharge your energy. Regarding operational management, organization is key. Keeping all documents up to date, responding to emails, dealing with suppliers, and managing payments efficiently are fundamental tasks,” Carolina continues.

“It’s essential to remember that every day is an opportunity to provide the best possible experience to your customers. Never lose sight of the importance of meeting the needs and expectations of your customers as they are the cornerstone of any successful business.”

Macondo Coffee Roasters, Kendall

Website: www.macondocoffee.com

Instagram: @macondokendall

Address: 13021 SW 88th St., Miami FL 33186 (Kendall location)


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