"On July 11, Zory graduated from an 18-week Business Opportunities Program offered through Rochester Schools Modernization Program. She was proud to receive her certificate and plaque from Mayor Lovely Warren."
|You cannot meet Zoraida Santana and not come away impressed with her determination and incredible energy. Zory has succeeded in forging a happy life despite the hills and valleys she has had to travail to get where she is today. Zory's heritage is Dominican Republic. After her family moved to America, she was born and raised on Long Island, New York. Zory describes her early years as a "gypsy life" because her family had to move about a lot.
A single mom, Zory is a trained LPN and worked in the medical field for many years, but after she and her son Jeffrey moved to Rochester, she decided she wanted to do something different. So when Jeffrey went off to college at The Art Institute in Tampa, Florida, Zory began pursuing her dream of owning her own food truck.
Things began to fall into place when, in 2015, she started volunteering with Foodlink's Cooking Matters program. Because of her connection with Foodlink, she was able to work with Le Petit Poutine food truck for a whole season, and in November 2016, she switched Foodlink gigs to volunteer with their curbside market. Foodlink hired Zory in March 2017.
While Zory was getting some hands-on food management experience under her belt, Zory discovered the PathStone Enterprise Center's (PECI) small business loan program and began working with Kayla Jenkins to begin the process of qualifying for a loan. Kayla worked with Zory for three years and was a close adviser during that time.
Obstacles presented themselves and doubt sometimes crept in, but Zory's faith kept her going. A teary-eyed Zory said, "[I talked to God and he said,] you start sewing and I'll supply the thread."
On July 11, Zory graduated from an 18-week Business Opportunities Program offered through Rochester Schools Modernization Program. She was proud to receive her certificate and plaque from Mayor Lovely Warren.
This past Thursday, at 3:30 p.m., Zory signed her closing documents and just like that, she became the proprietor of her own business, Zory's Empanada's. Within the next month and a half, her fully loaded food truck will be delivered and her dream will become a reality.
Zory is thankful for all the amazing people who helped her see realize her dream. Like kismet, they all came into her life at just the right time. "Timing is everything. If I had done this 10 years ago, it wouldn't have worked." Sara Hickman-Himes generously donated her time and talent to create Zory's Empanada's logo and food truck wrap. John Felice who took over from Kayla Jenkins at PECI and assisted Zory through the closing process. The attorneys who created her LLC pro bono. Last but not least, her miracle kitty Sebastian Peters who has filled the empty nest after Jeffrey went off to college.
Zory's Empanadas menu items will consist of the traditional style empanadas: 'Classico' (ground beef), 'Pernil' (roasted pork), 'Pollo Guisado' (stewed chicken), 'Carne Asada' (flank steak). The menu will feature her own special creation, a roasted sweet potato veggie empanada. Mmm ... yum!
"When you have one of my empanada's, you're going to feel like you're having an empanada from the Dominican Republic. You're going to taste the Caribbean flavor."
Be sure to look out for Zory's food truck next season and enjoy the Caribbean flavor of her delicious empanadas.
Zory's Empanadas is featured in PathStone's August 2018 newsletter.