Tijuana’s Bar & Grill founder named SBA’s Puerto Rico Small Business Person of the Year
SAN JUAN – The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) honored Tijuana’s Bar and Grill founder Alexander Gómez with the Puerto Rico Small Business Person of the Year Award, SBA District Director Yvette T. Collazo announced Friday.
Collazo presented Gómez with his award at the Small Business Week closing ceremonies co-hosted by the Puerto Rico Bankers Association, and at which Secretary of State Luis Rivera Marín read and delivered the Small Business Week Proclamation as signed by Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rosselló.
“Small Business Week is all about recognizing the great contributions small businesses like Tijuana’s Bar and Grill make to our economy,” said Collazo. “Entrepreneurship takes passion, dedication and commitment, all of which Alexander Gómez has demonstrated throughout the years. The SBA is proud to honor him among the nation’s finest entrepreneurs for 2018.”
Founded in 2003, Tijuana’s is a Mexican restaurant inspired by Gómez’s years living in California and working in Mexican restaurants. Tijuana’s has locations in Condado, Old San Juan and Guaynabo. Gómez franchises the brand, with one already open in Caguas and another to open shortly in Dorado.
Gómez has also established Tijuana’s Express counters in shopping center food courts. The restaurants provide direct employment to approximately 170 people.
The SBA also honored the following small businesses and entrepreneurs: Small Business Start-Up of the Year, Yasiri Álvarez, Take a Sip; Service Provider of the Year, Ruth E. Marcano, PPG Technical College; Retailer of the Year, Armando Egurrola, Security & Defense Industry of Puerto Rico dba Blindados; Family-Owned Business of the Year, Del Río Trading LLC; Woman Entrepreneur of the Year, Marta Costas, Little Brains Inc.; and Resilient Small Business of the Year, Marilyn Mendoza, González Mini Market.
In addition, the SBA bestowed the following awards to participating lenders that during fiscal year 2017 provided more than $61.7 million in financing under the agency’s 7(a) Loan Guaranty program: Gold Award to Banco Popular de Puerto Rico; Silver Award to Banco Santander Puerto Rico; and Bronze Award to Economic Development Bank for Puerto Rico. Corporación para el Fomento Empresarial del Comercio y de las Comunidades (COFECC) received the Certified Development Company of the Year Award.
The SBA district director’s Special Awards were presented to organizations that joined the agency’s Mobile Business Recovery tour, visiting 75 municipalities and impacting over 4,500 individuals that attended sessions seeking assistance in the aftermath of Hurricane María. These were: Colmena66; Economic Development Bank for Puerto Rico; Puerto Rico Industrial Development Co.; Puerto Rico MBDA Business Center; PRiMEX; Puerto Rico Small Business & Technology Development Center; Puerto Rico Trade & Export Co.; SCORE; Women’s Business Institute; and the Sila María Calderón Foundation Women’s Business Center.
SBA team members Raúl Bernardini, Germán Hernández, Jorge Betancourt, Samuel Maldonado and Wilma Sosa were also honored.