DECEMBER - MEMBER SPOTLIGHT
Fair Trade Cafe lives by the motto: “Coffee with a conscience.”
With two locations in Phoenix, both along the light rail downtown, the locally-owned Fair Trade Cafes serve “fair trade” coffee and a wide and ever-changing variety of health conscious food and beverages.
Stephanie Vasquez, the owner of Fair Trade Café and a member of the Arizona Hispanic Chamber of Commerce is a former school teacher turned social entrepreneur. She was inspired to start her business after a vacation in Costa Rica.
“I taught science to middle schoolers and I went on a vacation to Costa Rica and I learned about the history of coffee, the importance of community, and just the culture of coffee," Vasquez told the State Press, ASU’s student newspaper.
In a recent interview with ArizonaLatinos.com about that first of what would become many trips to Costa Rica, Vasquez recalled, “Everywhere you went there were these beautiful coffee shops that were so meaningful and just powerful.”
Based on that experience, Vasquez got hooked on the idea of “fair trade” and decided to open up her first cafe in 2007. According to her company’s website: “Fair Trade Café started with a dream to bring direct and fair trade, organic coffee to the downtown Phoenix Art District and to the downtown core.
“For the uninitiated, fair trade coffee is imported from around the world as part of a cooperative international program designed to promote environmental sustainability that treat and compensate coffee bean farmers and their workers fairly.” All of the coffee sold at the two cafes is ‘Certified Fair Trade and Organic’.
The best known of the two restaurants is at 1020 N. First Avenue, about one-half block north of Roosevelt Street (though the cafe actually faces Central Avenue). The other location is downstairs at the A.E. England Building at Civic Space Park, 424 N. Central Ave., across the street from Arizona State University’s downtown campus.
The cafés are a great place to study, do business or just relax during the week or listen to live music and poetry on the weekends. Each location also doubles as an art gallery, displaying the work of local visual artists. The spaces epitomize the spirit of “social entrepreneurship” and Vasquez’s own goal to give back to the community.
In keeping with that philosophy, Vasquez, who has been recognized as the Cox Latina Entrepreneur of the Year, describes Fair Trade Café as “an extremely green business”.
The cafés also offer great eats. Fair Trade Café’s menu of “morning or anytime sustenance” offers an eclectic mix of healthy foods and beverages. All pastries are made in-house. The restaurants offer artisan, hand-crafted ice cream. The menu includes burritos, breakfast sandwiches, bagels, croissants, arroz con leche and more, as well as hot and cold sandwiches, delicious fresh salads, hummus, bean dips and wraps. There’s plenty of fare for vegans and vegetarians.
And, of course, there’s always great coffee on tap.
You can buy bags of whole bean coffee or the staff will ground it to your specifications. Need your coffee or food delivered? Fair Trade has a bike courier service.
Vasquez said Fair Trade also offers a full range of catering services.
To learn more about Fair Trade, visit azfairtrade.com or call 602-354-8150. You can also find them on Facebook and Twitter.
NOVEMBER - MEMBER SPOTLIGHT
Ricardo Carlo is all about the logistics of getting things done.
Those talents have guided him his entire professional career, including his 17-year stint in the U.S. Air Force, several years in manufacturing, supervisory roles at Kroger Food Stores (such as overseeing distribution to more than 380 stores in the Southwest and parts of the Midwest), and as president and CEO since 2004 of the Associated Minority Contractors of America (AMCA).
“I didn’t know much about construction when I started this job (at AMCA) in 2004,” said Carlo, “but I think what they saw in me was my background in procurement, project and contract management, and my longevity. They could see I commit to things. I stick around awhile.”
While the AMCA, like virtually all trade associations, has had to weather the ups and downs of the economy, Carlo says the organization today is thriving and the future looks bright.
“It looks like 2016 is going to be a very good year. There’s definitely an uptick in business. Housing is booming, and once housing comes back commercial development follows,” said Carlo.
One reflection of the group’s increasing stability is its growing roster of corporate members, such as Hensel Phelps, Sundt Construction, Tutor Perini, JE Dunn Construction, Ryan Companies, Turner Construction, United Rentals, Austin Commercial, Arizona Public Service, Southwest Gas and others.
“Because of our partnerships here and nationwide, we’re now one of the most respected organizations of our kind in the country,” said Carlo.
While AMCA’s approximately 120 members are predominantly Hispanic-owned businesses, Carlo says the organization more than lives up to its namesake by representing a wide array of minority- and women-owned industry leaders.
“I’ve worked hard since I arrived (at AMCA) to change the culture of the organization,” said Carlo. “Today, we represent of all of the major minority groups: African Americans, Asians Americans, East Indians, Native Americans, Hispanics and women. We have the full range (of diversity).”
The growth in the number of women-owned businesses, especially among Hispanic women, is helping reshape the AMCA’s membership roster as well.
“Your starting to see more and more women in the field, especially Latina leadership,” said Carlo, who cited Marie Hoover, the founder, president and CEO of MRM Construction Services, among that new wave of women leaders in the construction industry. “MRM is expanding and growing immensely, and providing an economic injection in the community.”
Taking stock of AMCA’s growth and paying tribute to industry leaders, said Carlo, is an important part of the association’s mission. On November 14, the group will do just that by hosting its 18th Annual Awards Banquet at the Sheraton Phoenix Downtown Hotel.
"The hotel has been home for our event since it was constructed by our members from the general contractor on down to the subcontractors when it opened its doors in 2008," said Carlo.
For more information about AMCA, visit www.amcaav.com
OCTOBER- MEMBER SPOTLIGHT
2015 AIDS Walk Oct. 25
For many people, far too many, HIV/AIDS is a forgotten disease. But not to the 1.2 million people in the United States living with HIV infection, the virus that causes AIDS, or the hundreds of volunteers who support Aunt Rita’s Foundation and its year-round efforts to educate Arizonans about the prevention and treatment the disease.
Aunt Rita’s Foundation will host its 2015 AIDS Walk & 5K Run in Phoenix on October 25. Foundation events have returned more than $1.2 million since 2005 to help support 17 local nonprofits involved in HIV/AIDS prevention and assistance across the Valley.
While the disease may not generate the harrowing headlines it once did and effective treatments have been developed, there is still no cure or vaccine for HIV and AIDS.
“It’s still an epidemic,” said Aunt Rita’s Foundation Executive Director Kit Kloeckl, who is living with HIV. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there are still thousands of people every year in the U.S. who are infected by the virus that causes AIDS.
How prevalent is HIV/AIDS?
Of the 1.2 million people in the U.S. living with HIV infection, almost 1 in 8 (12.8%) do not know they are infected.
40 percent of Americans have never been tested for HIV infection.
About 50 percent who know they have AIDS are not being treated for the disease.
The Arizona Republic recently reported: “According to the Arizona Department of Health Services, more than 20,000 people living in Arizona had HIV in 2013, and an estimated 3,000 residents are living with the virus but haven't been tested. Treatment can reduce the chance of spreading HIV to others by nearly 96 percent."
Part of the challenge in stopping the spread of the virus, said Kloeckl, is that despite decades of public education efforts there is still a stigma attached to AIDS because there are basically two ways to get infected: sexual contact or intravenous drug use. No one wants to talk about either of those topics.
Latinos, African Americans and young people are among the most vulnerable to getting the disease. African Americans are 12 percent of the U.S. population, but accounted for 44 percent of new HIV infections in 2010. Hispanics are also disproportionately affected by HIV. While Hispanics represent 17% of the U.S. population, they accounted for 21 percent of new HIV infections in 2010.
Since the epidemic began in the 1980s, more than 100,000 Hispanics and nearly 300,000 African Americans with AIDS have died.Treatment, meanwhile, is expensive. A single pill administered to control HIV/AIDS can cost $3,000 a month said Kloeckl.
One in four new HIV infections in 2012 were people between 13 and 24 years old, and most of them do not know they’re infected.
“Young people think they’re invincible,” said Kloeckl. They are not, of course, and often unknowingly spread the virus.
Kloeckl advises everyone to get tested, which is easier than ever. For instance, people who want to get tested for HIV can visit one of the 40 Theranos Wellness Centers inside Walgreen’s stores in the Phoenix Valley for $16. If you have a personal physician, they can do it as well.
People in need of free HIV testing or other resources can visit www.hivaz.org.
For information about Aunt Rita’s Foundation, visit www.auntritas.org.
SEPTEMBER- MEMBER SPOTLIGHT
Hotel Peñasco del Sol
Peñasco Del Sol Hotel in Puerto Peñasco, Mexico—affectionately known to most Arizonans as Rocky Point—is at the top of its game.
Located immediately adjacent to the sandy white beaches of the Sea of Cortez and Rocky Point’s legendary nightlife scene, Peñasco Del Sol has long been a favorite for family vacations, romantic getaways and spring breakers.
In the past year, the 208-room hotel has gone from No. 5 on TripAdvisor.com to No. 1, and General Manager Germinal Garcia says that is no accident.
Empresas interviewed Garcia recently to talk about the changes he’s implemented at the hotel since taking charge 11 months ago.
EMPRESAS: What’s made your hotel so successful in the past and apparently even more popular now?
GARCIA: “The personalized service we provide is like no other. And then there’s our location, location, location. We are right at the end of 13th Street and overlooking the Sea of Cortez. We’re No. 1 on Tripadvisor.com out of 19 hotels because of the consistency in service and management we’ve been applying for the past year.
EMPRESAS: How do you keep the quality of service so high?
GARCIA: We do regular staff training, and we’ve been offering new incentives for the employees. Most importantly we live by the philosophy that at the end of the day the customer is always right. What a guest wants, he or she gets. As I tell all of my employees, “Never forget it’s our customers who pay our salaries.”
EMPRESAS: What’s your target market?
GARCIA: In June, July and August, it’s families and couples on vacation. In the winter, we get couples and the snowbirds. In the spring, it’s spring breakers. Some hotels don’t take them, but we have a contract we make them sign to be sure they live by the rules and treat everybody with respect. We’re very strict about that. That’s been very successful for us. In April and May, we get couples, newlyweds, and families coming down for the weekends. Corporate customers come year-round, during the week.
EMPRESAS: What’s next for your hotel?
GARCIA: Of course, we’re going to keep up the job we’ve been doing. We’ve made some improvements, like new carpet and bigger televisions in each room. We’ve upgraded the grounds. We just developed a “Deluxe Meal Plan” that includes breakfast, lunch and dinner and snacks. The biggest change coming is that we plan to open up a new Luxury RV park, paved and very nice, one block from our hotel. And we’re making upgrades to our Facebook pages and social media—in English and Spanish.
EMPRESAS: Is this a good time to be in the hotel business in Rocky Point?
GARCIA: “Definitely! It’s amazing how business is all coming back (since the end of the recession). Our hotel is doing very well. This is definitely a great time to be in the hotel business.
If you’re thinking about staying at Peñasco Del Sol Hotel, here’s what two recent customers had to say:
“We've taken a group of VIP's down to the Peñasco Del Sol, and from the greetings at the front to the room conditions to the food, beach and pool the entire process was amazing. The hotel is located in the heart of everything. I would highly recommend a conference, group, trade show or just a getaway weekend at the Del Sol.” - Joe H.
“When I write a positive review of a hotel it's usually a 5 Star. Peñasco Del Sol is not a 5 Star, but they don't pretend to be either. I think this is a lovely hotel. The rooms are cute. The staff is exceptionally friendly. The views are great from most of the rooms. We choose to stay here because of the location. The hotel is right on the beach but still walking distance from the center of town. A short walk down the street and you have some of the best tacos on the planet. If you come here check out the art all over the walls in the main lobby and restaurant. It’s great.” - Deb W.
AUGUST- MEMBER SPOTLIGHT
PAZ Cantina’s Recipe for Success: Cultura and Cuisine
For PAZ Taqueria Y Cantina’s Chef and Owner, Michael Reyes, the idea of mixing art, culture, food and fun isn’t just smart business, but a way of life. It’s where “cultura meets cuisine”.
Born and raised in Corpus Christi, Texas, Reyes has been in the restaurant business for 35 years. He’s opened eateries nationwide ranging from German, Korean and Japanese to Mexican food. Because of his Latin roots and love of Asian cuisine, Reyes says, “I have a Chino-Latino style of cooking. Lots of Asian spices and chiles.”
Reyes came to Arizona 11 years ago “and started opening restaurants for other people. They were the money people and I was just the guy who executed.” PAZ first solo venture came in 2010 when he and his partner, opened a Filipino food truck, which eventually evolved in PAZ Cantina on Roosevelt and Third Street.
“PAZ is a cultura and cuisine concept. I say cultura because we have a beautiful footprint on this unique corner that we’ve been beautifying and investing in since we arrived 9 months ago. All my flavors come from my mother, father and grandparents. We’ve been able to Chicanofy the corner.”
Reyes’ timing could not have been better. The Valley’s economy is on an upswing, Roosevelt has become a major art and food hotspot in the past several years, Arizona State University’s downtown campus and the adjacent University of Arizona campuses are rapidly expanding and more people are opting to live downtown.
Visitors to PAZ are immediately struck by the restaurant’s creative vibe. In recent months, the spot has hosted live music, mural painting, business networking mixers, and a Mexican “Lucha Libre” wrestling competition. The restaurant walls are lined with the work of local artists.
“We love having original artwork on the walls, especially local talent, and for every piece of art sold here every penny goes to the artist,” said Reyes. “Helping Latino art in every form take root, bloom and spread is an important part of who we are as a business and a member of the community. We have a story to tell and our story is American with Latin roots.”
There's no other way to say it: Cathy Garcia is chic...To be specific, she's "Cha Cha Chic."
As the founder and President of Cha-Cha Chic and a long-time member of the Arizona Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, Garcia lives and breathes the vivacious style, tone and cultura of the clothing and accessories she creates. But along with the emoción y pasión she brings to her business, Garcia's resume is packed with the experience it takes to run a growing company. Her life has included jobs in retail clothing, cosmetics and decorating.
She's also a gifted artist. If Garcia can imagine it, she can sketch it. After that, it's all about finding the right people who can execute her ideas. It's a formula that so far has helped her build a client base that includes, among many others, the Latin Grammys and the Academy Awards.
Garcia's says her company is named for her Chihuahua, Cha Cha, a fitting tribute given the unbridled energy of her designs. While Cha Cha (the company not the dog) began with a line of T-shirts, it has since evolved to offer a wide range of jewelry and other accessories.
While the company's name came from her Chihuahua, Garcia attributes the inspiration for her startup to her granddaughter. One day after wondering out loud what she would do next in life, her granddaughter said, "Nana, you're creative. Create!"
And that's exactly what Garcia's been doing ever since. Learn more about Cha Cha Chic by visiting www.cha-chachic.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.