In the bustling heart of 1990s Mexico, the tantalizing aromas of traditional foods wafted from their father’s skilled ‘taquero’ hands. Nearby, their grandmother managed a beloved restaurant. These family ventures provided the young Tzanahua brothers, Anthony and Rikelmer (fondly known as Rike), with their earliest culinary inspirations.
As the world celebrates Hispanic Heritage Month, the brothers’ journey from Mexico to the streets of Ariton and the academic halls of TROY epitomizes the spirit of the celebration: a blend of tradition, resilience, and innovation.
Their foray into the culinary world began at local festivals, with simple tents that soon transformed into a lively yellow trailer, captivating both locals and visitors with authentic flavors. Beyond food, their early years were a tapestry of diverse experiences. They dabbled in various roles, from landscaping to performing as clowns, each job molding their entrepreneurial spirit. Their formal business debut came in 2019, and the day’s earnings of $80 stood as a symbol of their budding ambition.
Life, however, had its set of challenges. The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic tested their enterprise, but their focus on takeout became a culinary lifeline for Ariton during the lockdown. Simultaneously, a shift in family circumstances saw the brothers shouldering more responsibilities, standing alongside their mother to support their expansive family.
It was during these trying times that the Small Business Development Center (SBDC) at TROY extended its guiding hand. Through the Rural Food Venture Program, a collaboration with the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture and the Sorrell College of Business, they received bespoke guidance. From mastering social media to prepping for their “Nahua” sauce range launch, the program’s breadth was vast. Specialized sessions with advisors like Juliana proved transformative.
A testament to their growth and the impact of the SBDC was their victory in the pitch competition, where they secured the “People’s Choice” award. This accolade was not just a win for them but a celebration of Hispanic entrepreneurship.
Education formed another cornerstone of their journey. Anthony, merging his business pursuits with academics, joined TROY’s distinguished Sorrell College of Business. This decision symbolized the perfect confluence of Hispanic tradition and contemporary knowledge.
A standout feature of their SBDC experience was the bilingual support. By offering services in Spanish, the SBDC ensured their mother’s active involvement. Her insights, steeped in Hispanic heritage, added depth to their business decisions.
As Hispanic Heritage Month unfurls, the Tzanahua brothers stand as luminous examples of the community’s spirit. Poised to launch their Aztec-inspired “Nahua” sauce range, their journey from Mexico to TROY encapsulates dreams realized with tenacity, tradition, and unwavering support.