For Angel Benitez, a Business Model Changes While Teamwork Stays the Same

 

Helping Others Cross the Finish Line

As a third-generation racecar driver, Angel Benitez inherited his father’s and his grandfather’s fearlessness, both on and off the racetrack. Angel arrived in the US from Venezuela as a teenager, bringing with him that same distinct ambition. “I was there to follow a dream.” He began spending his time in a rented kitchen space, developing a second passion for cooking into something he could share with others. In 2015, Angel opened the doors of Burbowl, a casual, sit-down burger restaurant in Miami, Florida. As seats quickly filled, Angel opened a second and third location, employing over 30 individuals across all locations. With a growing team, Angel values his role as a mentor. “You’re not just a manager, you’re a leader, and you want to teach them how to lead as well. You don’t know what people are capable of until you give them the opportunity to achieve something.”

 

An Unforeseen Fork in the Road

Yet in March 2020, Angel met an unprecedented obstacle that would force him to rethink every aspect of his business. As the COVID-19 pandemic forced businesses nationwide to temporarily close their doors, Angel found himself struggling to maintain business revenue and the 30 employees he so deeply values. “Our employees’ hours have been reduced because sales have plummeted. We are just trying to survive and give our employees as much time as we can for them to have an income.”

 

Constantly thinking ahead, Angel began pivoting his business model while maintaining his vision and support for the community. “We’re offering promotions, delivery, pick-up, even groceries. We want to maintain the quality of our food even when lowering the price. We want to make sure our food is affordable for everybody during these times.” Angel also received a loan deferment through Accion’s COVID-19 Relief Program. “It will ease some of the pressure that we’re having right now to know we don’t have to make this payment today and it will give us time to reorganize ourselves as things change.”

 

Crossing Bridges Together

Now working harder than ever, Angel spends his time brainstorming new ways to generate revenue in a time of complete uncertainty. “You have to be creative. Whatever you do now, you’re doing it for the first time, because nothing like this has happened before.” He feels hopeful that this time will elevate recognition of the small business community. “I think people are starting to understand that small businesses are the core of this country. We are the workforce.” Angel also continues to prioritize leading his team, emphasizing to them the urgent importance of unity. “We’re all in this together. We have to support each other and get out of this stronger than ever. But we have to pass through this first.”