There is a new kind of food in Bridgetown and it’s quickly becoming the talk of the town for all the right reasons.
About a month ago, Asahari Tang opened her Arepitas food truck in Worthing, Christ Church, serving up a variety of mouthwatering authentic meals from her birth country, Venezuela.
In a recent interview, the entrepreneur told Barbados TODAY that from the get-go residents and visitors have been flocking to the location to eat some of their favourite meals ranging from burritos, arepas, quesadillas and empanadas.
“Business has been great. Actually, I have had a lot of receptivity from locals and tourists,” said Tang.
Tang has noticed there is a huge Latin American community residing in Barbados. She said they were very happy to get a taste of their culture just the way they liked it.
About ten years ago, Tang had operated a food business called El Café de Net, also located in Worthing, where she would serve up a range of tacos, quesadillas and burritos. However, she was forced to close that operation, and would later take up employment elsewhere, working for someone else.
But determined to live her dream of having her own restaurant, in April of this year Tang quit her job after five years and told herself, “This is my time.” The 39-year-old said she was encouraged to start the business after thinking about it for quite a while.
“So I resigned from the job that I had,” she declared.
The mother of a ten-year-old boy said she was mentally prepared, adding that she received a lot of encouragement from her family, adding that reestablishing a business was very fast.
“I just decided that sometimes you don’t want to work for someone else anymore, that you would like to do your own business and that was the time. I thought about it and my granny actually helped me and my family was telling me, ‘yes, this is the time’,” she recalled.
“Everything happened so fast. One day I had the trailer built and then I was working and I had a lot of people coming. I wasn’t expecting it but I am very happy. And I am here to share my flavours,” she said.
The St Michael resident said she was especially pleased that since opening, locals have been enjoying the various Latin American flavours, with many of them telling her how delicious her meals are.
“They came in at first. You know how Bajans are, they came asking ‘what is this, let me see, let me try’, but then when they try it, they can’t stop coming in,” she quipped.
Her intention is to one day grow her business and even have a franchise.
“I want to show Barbados that there is more food out there in the world other than [local delicacies]. It is to share more food, the culture and traditions with you all,” said the resident of over 14 years.
“From here, I would like to do a nice restaurant. I have a lot of things on my mind but everything takes time. This is the beginning and I am not going to stop. I am going to take it to another level and then another level until I achieve what I really want, which is to have a big restaurant and maybe make it a franchise,” she said.
She acknowledged that she was taking the plunge when the economic conditions were not the most favourable, but told Barbados TODAY there was no sense in sitting down and waiting for a perfect opportunity that may never arrive.
“I think everything is hard all over the world. If you have any intentions or ideas to do something, just do it because you don’t know if it is going to work or not if you don’t try it. Everybody has ups and downs and troubles; you just have to be faithful that you are going to make it and believe in God that everything is possible. You just have to keep your mind positive and make the step. Sometimes you think and think and don’t move. But you have to move and go and get it,” she added.
The best part of her job is seeing people coming back to give praises about the quality and taste of the food and reading the excellent reviews on social media.
“That is a satisfaction because it is telling me I am doing something really right. That is what wakes me up every day and makes me continue every day,” she said.
Her greatest challenge is the fact that she has to be very hands-on with every aspect of the operation for now. “You are working for yourself so you have to work harder. That is the real challenge. But otherwise, I am really happy doing it, sometimes really tired, but I am here,” said Tang, who has one worker.
It was back in 2005 that the Venezuelan-born Tang came to Barbados to learn English at the request of her mother, who was married to a Barbadian and living here.
“I stayed one more year practising the language and then Barbados attracted me and I couldn’t escape afterwards,” she said through laughter.
Tang, who has family members back in the politically troubled Venezuela, said she was concerned about them since they were in a situation they could not easily escape.
“To be honest, I would like to help everybody but unfortunately, I can’t do it. It is hard,” she said.
“I think right now we are getting more together than before, and not only Venezuelans, I am talking about the whole Spanish-speaking people as a family. That is how I am seeing it right now. We are like a whole family,” she said.
Her simple advice to those who wish to start their own business is “stay positive. Get up and go and do it”.