Hispanic Heritage Month

How to Support Miami’s Latino-Owned Businesses Right Now

It’s easy to do in Miami.

If there’s one thing we do better in Miami than anywhere in America, it’s celebrate Latino heritage. Look no further than the rear-view mirror of the car parked next to you for proof of that. To celebrate some of our local Latino small business success stories,  we wanted to feature some Miami entrepreneurs who have given back to the community during the pandemic, and even before. So, from restaurants feeding the hungry to HVAC guys keeping the less-fortunate cool, here are our favorite Latino-owned small businesses that give back in bag ways.

Nonprofits and services

Cadena International
Founded in 2005, this nonprofit, non-governmental organization is dedicated to disaster relief and helping those most susceptible to natural disasters around the world. Founded by Mexican-Israeli Benjamin Lanaido, the organization has acted with Jewish communities across the world to ease suffering. This year Cadena has donated over 13,000 meals, 17,000 health personnel kits, and 77,000 health protection articles. And will be donating over 100,000 masks to at-risk areas in Latin America.
How to support: Make a donation here .
Neuelane/Taste of Miami
Though this creative branding agency isn’t a nonprofit itself, when restaurants floundered during COVID-19, it set up a nonprofit to help them out in an innovative -- and tasty -- way. The result is Taste of Miami, which has curated recipes from more than 30 of Miami’s favorite chefs and compiled them into a cookbook. All of the proceeds from the book will go to help local restaurants, and should be available this month.
How to support: Sign up to be able to purchase the cookbook here .
Feeding South Florida
Pembroke Park
Not that ending hunger in our region is ever not a priority, but in the wake of COVID-19, President and CEO Paco Velez saw a 600% increase in demand for food from his organization. Feeding South Florida rose to the challenge, providing more than 119 million pounds of food in the past fiscal year, creating nearly 100 million meals. The organization shows no signs of letting up either. To commemorate National Hunger Month in September, it’s participating in a virtual 5K on September 26 and hosting a massive virtual food drive as part of its Go Orange campaign.
How to support: Sign up for the 5K or to volunteer , or make a donation here.

Restaurants and bars

Old Greg’s Pizza
Design District
This summer’s internet pizza sensation isn’t just a square, sourdough pizza you have to order, like, six years in advance. It’s also doing things for the community to thank Miami for its overwhelming support. During the pandemic, owners Gregory Tetzner and Jackie Richie have worked with Adopt a Family to feed more than 50 local immigrant families, many of whom have largely been forgotten by larger organizations.
How to support: Order here. But, seriously, you’ve gotta order several days in advance.

Multiple locations
This family-owned bakery is now on its third-generation of Cuban-American ownership and has grown to 11 locations throughout South Florida. It has become a staple in the community not only through its delicious pastelitos, but also through doing stuff like giving free Cuban bread to anyone on Mondays, donating lunches to Miami-Dade Public Schools when they closed in April, giving Cuban bread and baked goods to low income areas, and working with the Joshua’s Heart Foundation to repurpose their leftover baked goods.
How to support: Go in for something other than the free Cuban bread, or order online through Toast.

Havana Restaurant
West Palm Beach
This West Palm Cuban staple has been around for 27 years since its founding in 1993 by Cuban-American Roberto Reyes. His children run the place now, and during the pandemic they  teamed with West Palm Beach police to help feed families affected by the pandemic. The restaurant has been collecting groceries every other week, and the police have served as a sort of Instacart with sirens, delivering food to local families.
How to support: Hit their 24-hour, Miami-style ventanilla.
Gilbert’s Bakery
Multiple locations
Gilbert’s has been serving croquetas, pastelitos, and other baked slices of heaven to the people of Miami since 1976. The family-run bakery also works with local high schools to give students vocational training in baking, donates its eggshells and coffee grounds to a local rock garden, and provides food for United Way events throughout the city. Every four years, it’s also the official caterer for Miami International Airport’s emergency fire drill (it has a location in Terminal J), and has become so popular owner Maria Peris said people ask her days ahead of time if they’re going to be there again.
How to support: Order online through Postmates .
Caribe Café
Multiple locations
Interestingly, this primarily Cuban restaurant was founded by Salvadorian-American Juan Alvarado back in 1980. Since then, it’s grown to 11 locations across South Florida and, during the height of the pandemic, it gained a big name by offering free meals to families in need. Lines literally wound around the strip malls and shopping centers where Caribe does business, where grateful families got food and Alvarado’s workers stayed employed.
How to support: Have lunch there today, or order online.

Phuc Yea
Miami’s favorite Vietnamese-Cajun restaurant isn’t just a great place for fried chicken or a relaxing drink in its lantern garden. It’s also a champion for feeding the hungry, as chef-owner Cesar Zapata serves as the South Florida co-chair for the national leadership council for No Kid Hungry . He’s also traveled to DC to lobby Marco Rubio for increases in SNAP benefits and EBT,  and the restaurant is donating 1,000 meals a month to Miami-Dade schools this fall.
How to support: Stop in for some fried chicken and a cocktail. Or order through Upserve .
Chef Adrianne’s Vineyard Restaurant and Bar
Despite her endorsement deals and TV appearances, Adrianne Calvo is still a small business owner at her core. And though she’s been occupied with opening her new location of Chef Adrianne’s -- as well as Redfish -- she still finds time to give back through her Make it Count Foundation , working in conjunction with St. Jude’s to help cancer-stricken children and their families.
How to support: Visit one of her restaurants or order online through Toast

Retail and other businesses

Pharaoun Cocktail Rings
Key Biscayne
When Sergio Mendoza’s wife Sarah died of breast cancer, he knew he wanted to devote his life to inspiring women with illnesses to be the best version of themselves. To this end, the Key Biscayne ring maker has donated more than 1,000 rings to women with various maladies. And this year developed a Pink Sea Urchin Ring, where 100% of the purchase price goes to supporting the Susan G. Komen Foundation .
How to support: Check out the Pink Sea Urchin ring here.

Vecinos Market
During the height of the pandemic, chef Rafael Barrera wanted to find a way for local artisans to still support themselves while farmers’ markets were closed. The result was Vecinos Market, an online marketplace where you can buy local goods by everyone from Panther Coffee and SUR empanadas, to Retox soap bars and clothes from local boutiques. Vecinos has not only provided a platform for struggling vendors, it’s also partnered with artist @AholSniffsGlue to make specially designed facemasks, with proceeds going to the Lotus House Women’s Shelter .
How to support: Shop online here .
Peace Love World
Cuban-American Alina Villasante began her design career making T-shirts, jewelry, and pajamas for her friends at her annual Love Parties. Her designs were so beloved, she sold her aviation business and founded Peace Love World. In the years since, she has developed a sizable celebrity following with folks like Oprah, J-Lo, and all the Kardashians sporting her looks. During the pandemic, she’s also become the face -- or eyes, anyway -- of Baptist Health’s Mask Up Miami campaign, as well as donated 9,000 items to local children’s charities.
How to support: Shop online here.

Maintenance Services 360
“If you want to get your house sanitized, properly, after someone’s infected with COVID, that’s not cheap,” says Maintenance Services 360 co-owner Louis Ayala. That’s why Ayala and his Cuban-American partner John Bowen have been providing their highly sought after services to some local families for free, giving the same treatment to their homes that the company gave to local government buildings when they reopened after the pandemic. It also gives a 15% discount to all front-line businesses.
How to support: You can reach them here.

AC Extra
The only thing worse than being holed up in your house during a pandemic is being holed up in your house with no AC. In Miami. In the summer. AC Extra owner Armando Betancourt knows this and, though his company has been massively busy this summer, he still understands some people need to stay cool despite hitting hard times. “Sometimes we go [to someone’s home], and they need a part that’s $450, but they can’t afford $450,” Betancourt says. “We’re not gonna leave them in the heat, and what are we losing, $200? I tell them don’t worry about it, just give us a nice recommendation.”
How to support: If you need AC service in Coral Gables or Hialeah, hit ’em up.

The Spot Barber Shop
Multiple locations
Honduran-American brothers JC and Fredis Perdomo founded the original Spot Barber Shop in 2001 in a 450-square-foot space with five barbers. Since then it’s expanded to 16 locations throughout South Florida, and as the company has grown it’s begun to give back in huge ways. Most notably, it sends multiple shipping containers to Haiti each year, filled with goods used in housing, schools, and hospitals. The Spot also works closely with the ITS4Kids Foundation, and provides free haircuts for kids at the Lotus House.
How to support: Make a haircut appointment here

Entertainment and recreation

Online/Coral Gables
Gym closures have given rise to online fitness personalities like Rodrigo Garduno, a former professional soccer player who leads 54D, one of the best online workouts anywhere. His popularity has exploded this year, with more than 100,000 people tuning in across the world for a daily dose of sweat and inspiration. Garduno was recently named an “Everyday Hero” by Univision’s Premios Juventud , and he offers a free workout for everyone once a week on his Instagram live at 11am.
How to support: Stop into the gym or check out workouts on Instagram .
Alore Events
Once upon a time, Miami was what some would call an “event town.” And one of the city’s most sought-after event producers was Anna Noriega, whose Alore Events Firm has planned events for everyone from Ricky Martin to Heidi Klum. In addition to lavish weddings and high-end soirees, the former Dolphins cheerleader has also produced the American Cancer Society Gala, Boys & Girls Club events, a Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital fundraiser, and many events for Baptist Health all free of charge.
How to support: Once events are a thing again, reach out to Alore.

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Matt Meltzer is a freelance writer based in Miami. Follow him on Instagram @meltrez1.